Mann fights extradition to Guinea-(22-02-07)

HARARE - A Harare Magistrate on Friday adjourned to March 29 a court proceeding in which Equatorial Guinea President, Theodora Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, is seeking an extradition order to have Simon Mann, leader of the group of me

n accused of planning a coup against him in 2004, handed to the oil-rich country to stand trial under that country’s despotic treason laws.
Mann is due for release in May at a time he would have completed serving a four-year prison term at the Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, a hell hole on the outskirts of Harare, where he has been held in solitary confinement for the past four years. Mann is being released early because of good behaviour.
President Nguema Mbasogo – a close friend of President Mugabe – is against this and he wants the Zimbabwe Court to hand Mann over to him so that he stands trial again in his own country, under his own courts.
Mann’s legal counsel Jonathan Samkange successfully pleaded with Harare Magistrate Omega Mugumbate to grant him time to produce documentation supporting his argument that Equatorial Guinea had a long history of torture and unfair trials. Samkange, asked for time to gather documentation from Amnesty International and the International Bar Association to corroborate his allegation that Equatorial Guinea was a despotic state where the rule of law was suborned.
Mann could be sentenced to death if he is handed over to President Nguema Mbasogo to stand a fresh trial.
“There is nothing that resembles a fair judiciary system there, absolutely nothing like a fair trial. He will not get a fair trial and he will be severely tortured,” Samkange told the court.
Equatorial Guinea Attorney-General, Jose Ole Obono, who represented President Nguema Mbasogo at the Rotten Row Magistrate Court last Friday, refuted allegations that there was a barbaric justice system in his country, maintaining that Mann would face justice in his country despite the fact government was the one pressing charges.
In granting the adjournment, Magistrate Mugumbate noted that Obono had presented documents in Spanish, which is the official language in his country, and that he needed time to translate them so that they could become admissible in a Zimbabwe Court.
Mann was arrested at the Harare International Airport when they stopped over for refueling and load up weapons the group had bought from the Zimbabwe Defence Industries.
Working on a tip-off from the South African intelligence, Zimbabwe’s military intelligence unit stopped the “dogs of war”, searched their plane, arrested the “mercenaries” and later convicted them of breaching firearms and aviation laws.
Sixty five of Mann’s employees, mostly former soldiers and policemen from apartheid-era security forces, were sentenced to 12 months in prison and the two men who flew his 22-year-old Boeing 727 from South Africa to Zimbabwe to pick up weapons, served 16 months.
Mann to date denies that he was plotting a coup aimed at overthrowing Nguema Mbasogo’s regime. Instead he insists he and his co-accused had been subcontracted to guard a mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The high-profile trial has sucked into its vortex high profile personalities including Britain’s former foreign secretary Jack Straw, who is reported to had been aware of the coup, Mark Thatcher, who bankrolled the plot along with Lebanese tycoon, Ely Calil, and British businessman Greg Wales.
Human rights organisations have pleaded with the Zimbabwe government to refuse extradition amid fears if Mann is handed over to President Nguema Mbasogo, he could face death by hanging.

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