Alleged Equatorial Guinea coup plotter downplays involvement as verdict looms

[JURIST] The trial of British national Simon Mann [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], charged with participating in an alleged coup attempt [BBC backgrounder] against Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo [BBC profile] in 2004, concluded on Friday with his defense lawyer seeking leniency. Mann, who has claimed that Sir Mark Thatcher was involved in the plot [JURIST report], testified that he was “only a junior member” in the organization plotting to overthrow Mbasogo. Defense counsel portrayed Mann as a "poor victim" of the failed coup in his closing argument, asking the court to consider his level of involvement and his collaboration with the authorities. Mann faces a maximum sentence of 32 years, to be served in Blackbeach prison in Malabo. AP has more.

Mann is a former British military officer arrested four years ago after a plane carrying him and approximately 60 mercenaries landed in Zimbabwe. Mann was sentenced [JURIST report] in 2004 in Zimbabwe for plotting the coup, and was deported [JURIST report] to Equatorial Guinea in secret in February 2007 before his appeal process against extradition in Zimbabwe was complete. His lawyers argued that Mann would face torture and possibly the death penalty if extradited, but the Zimbabwe High Court ruled against his appeal [JURIST report] this past January, finding that there was enough evidence of his involvement to carry out extradition, and that the defense failed to show a sufficient likelihood of torture.

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