Mark Thatcher's old chum and mercenary soldier of misfortune, and neighbour at one time in Cape Town, Simon Mann 53, is reported in the Sunday Express to be "close to death in a hell-hole prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, after being tortured by the henchmen of mad and ageing dictator Robert Mugabe. He is due for release in May and his lawyers are fighting to stop his extradition to Equatorial Guineau - where no doubt a great deal more unpleasantness awaits him.
Attorney-general Jose Olo Obono assured a court in Harare that Mann would not be executed or tortured if Zimbabwe agreed to extradite him to Equatorial Guinea. Obono said the former British army officer would get an "open and fair trial." The extradition hearing has been adjourned until March 23.
He is currently is serving a 7 year sentence for his part in an attempt to oust another dictator, Teodor Obiang Nguema, head of Zimbabwe’s neighbour, Equatorial Guinea.
Old Etonian, ex SAS Mann is reportedly almost blind, suffering multiple organ failure and has a life-threatening intestinal condition caused by poor diet.
One of his colleagues Sean Abdinor, who arranged the air transport for alleged plotters is currently appearing in Pretoria Regional Court and singing like a canary as he testifies against 8 men (Raymond Stanley Archer, Victor Dracula, Errol Harris, Mazanga Kashama, Neves Tomas Matias, and Hendrik Jacobus Hamman.) accused of contravening the South African Foreign Military Assistance Act and their part in the failed coup.
He claimed this week that South African president Thabo Mbeki was regularly informed of the progress of an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea which was also sanctioned by the United States, Britain and Spain.
Another songster in court earlier in the same case ,Crause Steyl detailed again how he dealt with the boy Mark. They met to arrange financing from him for a helicopter to be used in the plot, at Lanseria airport near Johannesburg in December 2003 and he said the ace rally driver and man about town Mark suffered from numerous "nervous twitches" .
Agreeing to finance the helicopter it was initially decided to buy it, then it was changed to a short term charter. Thatcher gave Steyl US$275,000 (£145,000 at the time) to pay for the chartering of the helicopter, he explained
"He was concerned once the helicopter was acquired on whose name it was going to be registered — anyone but his,"
Cross-examined by Margie Victor, Steyl said he said he was flying Severo Moto, an opposition leader from the Canary Islands to Equatorial Guinea, who was accompanied by David Tremain, a British businessman, Greg Wales, and by Karim Fallaha, an associate of Ely Calil, a London-based Lebanese oil millionaire and very close friend of Peter Mandelson whom he is allegedly informed about the coup.
En route they landed in Mali to refuel when they received a message that 60 men - who were on their way to Equatorial Guinea had been arrested in Zimbabwe. Steyl testified that they returned to the Canary Islands where they were arrested by immigration officials. After a conversation with a customs official, their passports were handed back to them and they were allowed to go (presumably to the UK).
Another name that continues to crop up in the failed "Wonga coup" is that of Simon Mann's ex buddy Tim Spicer - Tim was of course colleague of Mann's and it appears the MI5/6/Foreign Office told Tim to warn off Mann , but Spicer said he wasn't aware of any planned coup so didn't warn him. Let's hope that Crause Steyl doesn' t mention Tim Spicer before the Iraqi contract gets awarded.