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Equatorial Guinea court convicts British ex-officer for coup attempt

[JURIST] A court in Equatorial Guinea Monday convicted British national Simon Mann [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] for his involvement in an alleged 2004 coup attempt [BBC backgrounder] against President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo [BBC profile]. Mann was sentenced to 34 years in prison, to be served at Blackbeach prison in Malabo. The sentence is longer than the 31 years of imprisonment that Equatoguinean prosecutors had sought. Last month, Mann admitted his involvement in plotting the attempted coup, and expressed remorse for his actions. At his trial, Mann testified that Sir Mark Thatcher [BBC profile], the son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was involved in the plot and that Mann was "only a junior member" [JURIST report] in the organization plotting to overthrow Mbasogo. Reuters has more. BBC has additional coverage.

Mann, a former British military officer with the elite Special Air Service [BBC backgrounder], was 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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