Killers for Hire: Private Military Corporations

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"War and anarchy will reign in Africa
because it has been exploited by people making promises.
The Cold War left a huge vacuum and I identified a niche in the market
we are selling the business of surviving."

- Eeben Barlow,
Executive Outcomes

Corporate stormtroopers ravage Africa
The Scandal on the staged coup planned for Equatorial Guinea

New - War Business Part 2: South African soldiers deserting army for Iraq
Background: Who's Who of Executive Outcomes (focus on Tim Spicer)

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Executive Outcomes
A new kind of army for privatized global warfare

By Anthony C. LoBaido

Sitting on the patio of his lavish home in suburban Pretoria, Eeben Barlow poured afternoon tea and basked in the late summer sun, looking more like a successful businessman than a hardened, elite Special Forces operator of the now defunct Apartheid-era South African Defense Force (SADF).

In fact, the former commander of the famed 32 Battalion's Reconnaissance (Recce) Wing is both.

At the center of Barlow's synthesis of commerce and soldiering skills is his highly successful private corporate army known as Executive Outcomes or EO.

The activities of EO, the clients it serves, and the global transnational corporate elite (including the DeBeers diamond cartel, Texaco and Gulf-Chevron) which fund its operations, offer an intriguing look into the Real-Politik of the emerging world order.

"As a private corporate entity, EO is able to operate without the restrictions of any particular nation's flag leading our soldiers into battle," says Barlow. "Organizations such as the UN and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) can make use of EO without partiality in negating the speedy resolution of conflict in any given country utilizing our services. Our employees have over five-thousand man years of military knowledge, combat and training experience."

While Western governments in the post-Cold War era continue to cut back on the manpower of their capital intensive forces, and are increasingly unable to sell their constituencies on nation-building exercises like the Somalia debacle, EO is ready to fill the void.

EO is able to provide private counter-insurgency operations, peacekeeping forces, and the muscle for corporations to control gold and diamond mines, oil and other natural resources in a variety of failed states which stretch to the four corners of the world.

"We offer a variety of services to legitimate governments, including infantry training, clandestine warfare, counterintelligence programs [cointelpro], reconnaissance, escape and evasion, special forces selection and training and even parachuting," adds Barlow.

EO is equipped with Soviet MiG fighter jets, Puma and East Bloc helicopters, state-of-the-art artillery, tanks and other armaments. Barlow pointed out that EO boasts an array of no less than 500 military advisors and 3,000 highly trained multi-national special forces soldiers.

The long and twisted journey of Barlow's involvement with the SADF began when he moved from Northern Rhodesia to South Africa as a boy. After matriculating in 1972, he joined the SADF in 1974. By 1980 he was with 32 Battalion, (known as South Africa's Foreign Legion) fighting with the SADF Special Forces in Angola and assisting the anti-Marxist UNITA, (the Union for the Total Independence of Angola) guerrilla army.

Later he moved on to Military Intelligence and then to the Armaments Corporation of South Africa, (ARMSCOR). Barlow's most challenging assignment however, may have been heading up the Western European section of the Civil Co-operation Bureau, (CCB) which attempted to circumvent UN-imposed Apartheid sanctions by setting up front companies overseas.

The CCB's ability to import highly sensitive technology for South Africa's advanced nuclear program, as well as its alleged assassinations of hundreds of anti-Apartheid activists world-wide still remains a mystery tot his very day.

EO's parent company is most likely the South African-based Strategic Resource Corporation (SRC). EO exists in SRC's corporate universe as just one satellite in a web of thirty-two companies involved in a plethora of mining, air charter, and "security" concerns. These satellite companies are registered anywhere from CapeTown to the Bahamas to the Isle of Man.

Since 1993, Companies House in London has carried a record of Executive Outcomes Ltd. With offices in Hampshire, UK. Barlow and the British national who became his wife after the company filed (and after his divorce from hi South African wife) are named as holders of 70 percent of its capital. Keeping EO's title and other paperwork in the UK serves a two-fold purpose. Firstly, London is well known as a center of international weapons dealing and quasi-security deals. Secondly, it helps deflect negative coverage away from South African President Nelson Mandela and the ANC, who have used the reconstituted elite Apartheid forces (now EO) to fight and defeat it's Angola-based Cold War enemy UNITA, (and installed the MPLA to power in the former Portuguese colony.


The genesis of EO came in 1989, during the dying days of Apartheid, when ANC leader Nelson Mandela ordered former South African President F.W. de Klerk to dismantle the SADF Special Forces units with the hope of crippling a right-wing Afrikaner coup against the take over of South Africa by its long-time Marxist enemy.

Reputed to be one of the finest military units in the world, 32 Battalion boasted successes like holding off the Cold War invasion of South Africa's northern neighbor Angola -- which was led by a contingent of Soviet, Cuban, East Bloc and North Korean forces.

Other elite SADF units, including the counter-insurgency outfit kovoet, (Afrikaans for "crowbar") all of the Recce units and the shadowy Civil Co-operation Bureau were also targeted for dismantlement.

Faced with prospect of being thrown out of the army he had served so well, not to mention the apocalyptic end of three centuries of Afrikaner cultural identity and struggle for a free and independent Christian future, Barlow formed EO.

In its short history, EO has fought in South and West Africa, South America, and the Far East. An example of one of its initial tasks was to assist a South American Drug Enforcement Agency in conducting "discretionary warfare" against local drug producers.

Other EO operations, stretching from Angola to Sierra Leone to Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea, always involve millions of dollars of cash payments augmented by mining, logging and oil rights to lucrative geologic deposits.

"It's kind of ironic that when Eeben fought for Apartheid, the white race, anti-communism and Christianity, he wound up without any money and was shoved out the door," says Willem Ratte, a former member of the elite Rhodesian Selous Scouts and the man who trained and honed Barlow's superlative fighting skills.

It was Ratte who ran South Africa's war in Angola. Among Ratte's frighteningly maverick strategies was to send Aids-infected prostitutes to comfort Cuba's 50,000 troops in Angola -- unleashing an Aids plague which they carried back home to Fidel Castro's homeland.

"Now that he's fighting on the side of our enemies in Angola, and on behalf of the interests of the multinational corporations, he's become a wealthy man," adds Ratte. "Eeben is a very capable soldier.

He once told me that he was angry about the sellout of the Communists by the National Party in South Africa.

In the end, perhaps he figured that if the Marxists were going to take over our country anyway, why not make $US 40 million in the process?"

Barlow calls his former mentor Ratte, "simply the finest, most professional soldier ever trained by the SADF." And although Barlow remains at odds with Ratte and a number of other former elite SADF troops that see him as having betrayed Afrikanerdom, he defends his right to change along with "The New South Africa."

"We've undergone a paradigm shift in consciousness, in our interpretation of reality," says respected South African political analyst Ed Cain, editor of the erudite journal Signposts.

"We are living in the post-Christian era.

The free world and the 'former' communist world are being merged.

There are no more countries, no more Japanese, no more Mexicans.

There are only rich and poor, hi-tech and low-tech, Northern and Southern Hemisphere.

Its almost like a new form of virtual Apartheid.

Anthony C. LoBaido is a longtime contributor to, 1998

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Plot quickens in thriller trial

The trial of Old Etonian Simon Mann resumes in Zimbabwe this week. He is accused of trying to overthrow Equatorial Guinea’s President Nguema and could face execution
By Fred Bridgland
25 July 2004

Africa’s biggest mercenary trial in 40 years resumes on Tuesday at a Zimbabwean maximum-security prison, with hundreds of soldiers patrolling the razor wire-topped walls that surround it.

The plot, unfolding in Chikurubi prison, is so complex it is worthy of a John le Carré or Frederick Forsyth novel. The two main characters are a flamboyant British mercenary, whose father captained the England cricket team, and the president of what is probably the most oppressive state on the continent of Africa.

Simon Mann and his group of 69 employees, arrested in Zimbabwe on March 7, face charges of violating the country’s immigration, firearms and security laws. But they are also accused of plotting to overthrow Brigadier-General Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, president of the newly oil-rich west African state of Equatorial Guinea.

Nguema has demanded the extradition of Mann and his men to face possible death sentences, and some reports allege that the Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, has agreed in exchange for guaranteed supplies of Equatorial Guinean oil to his country, which has the fastest-collapsing economy in the world.

In theory, in the Africa of the new African Union, vicious black dictators and white soldiers of fortune have been consigned to history. But Mann and Nguema are real players in a positively Shakespearian plot. It is a matter of debate which of them is the nastiest stain on the contemporary map of Africa.

The Mercenary:
The trial of Old Etonian Simon Mann resumes in Zimbabwe this week. He is accused of trying to overthrow Equatorial Guinea’s President Nguema and could face execution

Simon Mann is the Eton-educated son of a former England cricket captain and president of the MCC, George Mann, who made his fortune from the Watneys Mann brewing empire. He is a member of White’s, London’s oldest gentlemen’s club . He owns a beautiful house in 20 acres of pasture on the banks of Hampshire’s Beaulieu River that once belonged to the Rothschilds.

At birth, 51 years ago, he was an unlikely candidate to end up in chains and shackles in one of Robert Mugabe’s fetid prisons. But although Simon Mann had a privileged upbringing, he also had a low boredom threshold and a taste for adventure.

Eton was followed by Sandhurst and the Scots Guards, the British regiment most closely associated with royalty and upper-class British society. He passed the selection procedures of the SAS at the first attempt. He became troop commander of 22 SAS, serving in counter terrorism and intelligence in Cyprus, Germany, Norway, Canada, Central America and Northern Ireland.

He resigned from the army and established his own security company . However, he was so much a member of the Establishment and so highly thought of that General Sir Peter de la Billière, commander of British forces during the 1990 Gulf war, recalled Mann to uniform to be his right-hand man.

After the war, Mann became a mercenary soldier who was a hero to many black Africans. He put together a mercenary deal for the government of Angola that resulted in a major victory against guerrilla rebels.

For US$30 million, plus diamond mining and other mineral concessions, Mann registered a “security company” in London called Executive Outcomes. It was a front for a bigger outfit of the same name that was simultaneously established in South Africa, but which recruited former South African Defence Force fighters for mercenary operations in Africa. Mann and his South African counterpart, Eeben Barlow, flew 500 men, most of them former special forces , to northern Angola. The small force routed Unita guerrillas, led by rebel chief Jonas Savimbi, and secured for the government the oil region of the northwest and diamond fields in the northeast.

In 1995 Mann set up an Executive Outcomes offshoot, Sandline International, with an old Scots Guards friend, Lt-Col Tim Spicer. Sandline International shipped arms to the Sierra Leone government, in defiance of a UN arms embargo. Working closely with British forces from Royal Navy ships, Sandline helped defeat Foday Sankoh’s rebels .

Mann let out his Hampshire house and retired to a life of luxury in Cape Town, where his neighbours included Mark Thatcher, Earl Spencer and Teodoro Nguema Obiang, the murderous 34-year-old playboy son of President Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, whose US$4m house was funded from his father’s account with Riggs Bank in Washington.

But Mann, who also found time to play the part of Colonel Derek Wilford in a film on Londonderry’s Bloody Sunday, was apparently still restless. He established another company, Logo Logistics, which had the obvious profile of a mercenary outfit and which owned a Boeing jet. By several accounts, Mann was offered more than US$1.5m by Equatorial Guinea opposition leader Severo Moto to overthrow President Nguema. It looks as though it might prove to be an adventure too far for Simon Mann, with possible execution in Equatorial Guinea the conclusion of an unconventional career.

The Monster:
Nguema, ‘a demon who systematically eats political rivals’

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo last year proclaimed himself in permanent contact with the Almighty in a state radio broadcast in which one of his aides said: “He can decide who to kill without anyone calling him to account and without going to Hell because it is God himself with whom he is in permanent contact and who gives him his strength.” Nguema, 62, is a classic stereotypical African dictator, always worrying about coup plots. Like the one he staged himself in 1979 to overthrow his uncle, Maçias Nguema, who was executed by his nephew’s Moroccan security guards.

Tales of the brutality of the President’s forces are legion. A foreign oil engineer recently recounted what happened when he handed over to police a man caught stealing petrol: “He was made to brace himself up against the counter in the police station with his hands forward. One of them smashed his rifle butt down on the man’s hand so hard that it basically exploded and disappeared. The police then climbed in with sticks and beat him to death.” Patrick Smith, editor of the London-based newsletter Africa Confidential, says that in the periodic coup attempts against Nguema, “the people involved are just rounded up, paraded before the state media, and then they disappear for ever.”

Nguema’s brother is a top internal security officer and, according to Amnesty and US State Department reports, a torturer whose minions throw buckets of urine over their victims, slice off their ears and rub oil into their bodies to attract stinging soldier ants.

Exiled opposition leader Severo Moto, who was meant to be installed as President in the most recent alleged coup attempt, has described Nguema as “a demon who systematically eats his political rivals”.

In a radio broadcast in Spain, the former colonial ruler of Equatorial Guinea, Moto said: “He has just devoured a police commissioner. I say ‘devoured’ because this commissioner was buried without his testicles and brain. We are in the hands of a cannibal.”

In the mid-1990s the US closed its embassy in Malabo, the capital, after its ambassador received death threats for questioning the President’s human rights record. Nguema was then named in a US Senate investigation into money laundering via Riggs Bank in Washington.

The US changed tack just over three years ago after Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco and Dallas-based Triton Energy, a company with close ties to President Bush, had invested more than US$5 billion in Equatorial Guinea’s oil production.
The oil companies lobbied for strengthened US relations with the Nguema family.
The US Embassy in Malabo was reopened in December 2001.

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'World's most important bank' sold after months of scandal

Independent UK -17 July 2004
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington

"The most important bank in the most important city in the world" was the boast of Riggs Bank, pillar of an old-line Washington establishment and banker of choice to the dozens of foreign embassies at the court of the global superpower.

Yesterday, 168 years of independence came to an undignified end as Riggs was sold off to a financial group based in Pittsburgh. The sale capped the worst two months in the bank's long history, marked by a record fine for money laundering offences, accusations that it hid money for the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and a growing scandal at its embassy banking division, featuring Saudi Arabia and Equatorial Guinea.

This week a Senate subcommittee drew an astonishing picture of how Riggs turned into an offshore state treasury for President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, widely accused of running one of the most corrupt and brutal regimes on earth.

On at least two occasions between 2000 and 2002, the report by the Senate sub-committee for investigations charged, a Riggs employee went to the country's embassy to pick up suitcases stuffed with up to $3m (£1.6m) in $100 bills, in plastic-wrapped bundles. The employee took the cash into a Riggs branch in Washington, and deposited it into an account held by a company in the Bahamas controlled by Mr Nguema.

Jonathan Bush, President Bush's uncle, was appointed CEO of Riggs Bank's investment arm in May of 2000

In May, 2004, Jonathan Bush agreed to pay a record $25 million in civil fines for violations of law intended to thwart money laundering. Bush-Riggs Link

Over the years vast sums passed through another Riggs account which Equatorial Guinea set up after oil was discovered in the country a decade ago. The money was paid in by US oil companies. At one point $700m was in this "oil account", the largest of more than 60 at the bank held by the impoverished country and its ministers and their families. Mr Nguema himself is said to have siphoned off $11m or more for his personal use.

Two months earlier Riggs was fined $25m for "wilful and systemic" violations of federal laws, over its reporting of cash transactions in Saudi embassy accounts, that have been under investigation for possible links to terrorist financing.

The Saudi embassy, one of the largest in the capital, insists that its 150 accounts have always been perfectly regular. Nor have any criminal charges been brought against Riggs employees. But the bank's dealings with both Saudi Arabia and Equatorial Guinea are still being investigated by a grand jury and other Congressional and federal investigators.

Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, called the affair "a sordid story of a bank with a prestigious name, that blatantly ignored its obligations under our money-laundering laws".

Separately, the Congressional panel has accused Riggs of helping hide up to $8m of assets held by General Pinochet, including transactions while he was under indictment for human rights crimes in 1998-99, when his financial assets were supposed to be frozen. General Pinochet's family have denied the charges. But the Chilean government promises to investigate the matter. If confirmed, the dealings could bring further legal trouble for Riggs.

In public testimony this week, Ashley Lee, a former federal bank examiner who supervised Riggs between 1998 and 2002, denied that he had told his subordinates to exclude documents relating to the Pinochet dealings from a regulatory data base. After retiring from public service, Mr Lee joined Riggs as an executive vice-president.

In the end, Riggs closed the scandal-plagued embassy division. Earlier this year it hired outside advisers to look for possible takeover buyers for a bank which, for all its misfortunes, remains the largest in the Washington area, with $6bn of assets. Yesterday those efforts bore fruit with a deal selling Riggs to PNC Financial Services Group. The transaction values Riggs at $779m - by co-incidence or otherwise about same amount as coursed through Equatorial Guinea's "oil account" in its heyday.

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Guernsey bank 'in coup plot link'

Thursday, 9 September, 2004, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK

Guernsey authorities are being asked to force a bank to provide payment details that may be linked to an alleged Equatorial Guinea coup plot.

Ex-SAS soldier Simon Mann, the alleged ringleader, is thought to hold accounts at a Guernsey branch of a UK bank. A Guernsey court on Thursday adjourned the case - brought by Equatorial Guinea's president - until Monday.

Sir Mark Thatcher is due in a South African court in two weeks over claims he helped to finance the alleged plot. Sir Mark, the son of former prime minister Baroness Thatcher, denies the claims.

Court summons

Jakob van Reenen, chief magistrate in South Africa's Wynberg regional court, said: "We are going to prepare a summons and he will be called to appear in court" . Sir Mark was arrested in Cape Town last month as part of a widening investigation into the suspected coup plot in the oil-rich West African country.

The possible link to a Guernsey bank emerged as lawyers acting for the country's president attempt to discover the identities of those who allegedly bankrolled the plot. Simon Mann has been found guilty of attempting to buy arms for the alleged plot.

Alan Merrien, a lawyer for Equatorial Guinea's president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, is seeking details of the payments made to and from the account of Mann, who police believe masterminded the plot.

Guernsey connection

But Mann's lawyers are trying to prevent any details from being revealed and argue that there are no legal procedures in place forcing individuals to disclose details. The case seems to hinge on whether such information can be used in foreign proceedings.

A hearing at the royal court in St Peter Port, Guernsey, on Tuesday lasted more than five hours. The case was adjourned until Thursday. The request from Equatorial Guinea to question Sir Mark was forwarded to the court by the national department of justice on Monday.

He has two weeks to prepare for the questioning, which will be conducted in an open court before a magistrate.

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Simon Mann jailed for seven years

Guardian -September 10, 2004

A court in Zimbabwe today sentenced British mercenary Simon Mann to seven years in prison for attempting to buy arms to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea.

The court also handed down 16-month sentences to the two pilots of a plane that landed in Zimbabwe in March carrying dozens of suspected mercenaries. The 65 men who were on the plane were convicted of immigration offences and given 12-month sentences.

Mann, a former SAS officer and co-founder of security group Executive Outcomes, admitted trying to buy assault rifles, grenades, anti-tank rocket launchers and other weapons from Zimbabwe Defence Industries...

He and the 65 mercenaries were arrested at Harare international airport on March 7 as they awaited delivery of the weapons.

Prosecutors said the arms were destined for Equatorial Guinea where Mann, 51, and his co-accused intended to take part in a coup to overthrow the president, Teodoro Obiang. At a court hearing last month Mann was acquitted of an additional charge of taking possession of the weapons.

Mann claimed the weapons were destined to protect a mining operation in war-torn eastern Congo.

"I am devastated. I can't believe it. They have already done six months and with this sentence it is now 18 months," Marge Pain, whose husband was a passenger on the plane, told the Reuters news agency. Relatives of the men broke down and wept as the ruling was handed down.

One of Mann's former associates at Executive Outcomes, Nick du Toit, is currently on trial for his life in Equatorial Guinea for his part in the alleged plot. Sir Mark Thatcher, son of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, has been charged in South Africa with helping to fund the plot via a payment to a third party. He has been subpoenaed to answer questions on September 22. Sir Mark denies any involvement or knowledge of the coup.

A total of 88 people are in custody in South Africa, Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe in connection with the plot.

Equatorial Guinea wants to question a number of other Britons over allegations they financed the coup plot in Africa's third-largest oil producing nation. The Guardian today reported that a so-called "wonga list" of alleged millionaire backers of the aborted coup is said to have been handed over to South African police by two of Mann's former colleagues.

According to the list, seen by the Guardian, Mann paid $500,000 (£281,000) towards the coup. Ely Calil, a London-based Lebanese oil millionaire, is alleged to have raised another $750,000. Mr Calil's lawyer has denied that his client had any knowledge of the plot.

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Margaret Thatcher's Son Released on Coup Plot Charges

Margaret Thatcher's Son Released on Coup Plot Charges Aug. 25, 2004 (Bloomberg) -- Mark Thatcher, the son of former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, briefly appeared in a Cape Town court after being arrested for allegedly aiding a failed coup in Equatorial Guinea. Thatcher, 49, was released and told to provide a guarantee of 2 million rand ($300,000) by Sept. 8. He was ordered to surrender his passport and travel documents, not to leave the Cape Town vicinity without written permission and report daily to police. The case was postponed till Nov. 25.

A dozen investigators from the Scorpions, an FBI-style crime- fighting unit, swooped on Thatcher's Constantia, Cape Town, home shortly after dawn to search for documents linking him to the coup. South Africa's Foreign Military Assistance Act prevents residents of the country from planning or conducting any military acts abroad. Thatcher "has been co-operating with the authorities," Alan Bruce-Brand, Thatcher's lawyer said outside the court in Wynberg, Cape Town. "He denies any possible wrongdoing at all."

Thatcher is suspected of providing funding and logistical support for a failed bid to overthrow Equatorial Guinea's president Obian Nguema, said Makhosini Nkosi, a spokesman for the country's national prosecuting authority, which oversees the Scorpions.

Nguema has ruled the oil rich central African country since 1969 amid claims that he tortured political opponents. His financial affairs are under investigation in the U.S. where more than $600 million of his funds have been frozen, according to The Independent newspaper, in an article published today on its website.


The Scorpions had "not ruled out the possibility" that Thatcher may be extradited to Equatorial Guinea where a group of alleged coup plotters are on trial, although it was unlikely, Nkosi said. "We're investigating charges of contravening the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act. If someone breaks a law in South Africa, they'll be tried in South Africa and serve their sentence here." Thatcher is the neighbor of Simon Mann, a former SAS officer, and one of 70 men on trial in Zimbabwe for the alleged coup plot in Equatorial Guinea, according to an article posted on The Guardian newspaper's website. The men were caught after their chartered Boeing 727-100 landed to collect weapons, the website said.

"They will appear on Friday for judgment and sentencing," Advocate Francois Joubert, their legal representative, said in a telephone interview from Johannesburg, without elaborating further. Mann, who pleaded guilty to wanting to buy weapons in Zimbabwe as protection to guard diamonds in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, may face more serious charges, he said.

Alleged Coup

Another group of 18 men are on trial in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, for the alleged coup attempt in March. One of the men's leaders, Nick du Toit, may face the death penalty, while the others may face life imprisonment if found guilty, according to Johannesburg-based news agency South African Press Association.

Du Toit was quoted by AFP as telling prosecutors in Malabo today that he and Thatcher met in July last year as part of a business deal. ``We talked strictly about business issues concerning the sale and purchase of helicopters,'' Du Toit was quoted by AFP as saying.

``My client has maintained that he is innocent and he is co- operating fully with the authorities, "Advocate Peter Hodes, Thatcher's senior counsel, said in a telephone interview from Cape Town. The charges "had something to do with providing finance for a helicopter," he said without being able to elaborate until he had spent more time with Thatcher and the lawyer assigned to the case.

High Commission

The British High Commission said it had been advised of the arrest of Thatcher. "We'll offer normal consular assistance that is given to any British citizen that is arrested abroad. This is routine." said Nick Sheppard, a spokesman for the British High Commission, in a telephone interview from Cape Town.

"In our country we are all equal before the law," said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, South Africa's foreign affairs minister, on the sidelines of a visit by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in Cape Town. She was not aware of Thatcher's arrest. "The law must take its course." Thatcher is married to Diane Burgdorf and has two children. He moved to South Africa in 1995. He has a twin sister named Carol. The Margaret Thatcher Foundation in London didn't return an e-mail asking for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Vernon Wessels at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Frank Connelly
Katherine Snyder
Last Updated: August 25, 2004 11:45 EDT

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Thatcher fights 'coup' interview

Monday, 13 September, 2004, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK

Lawyers for Sir Mark Thatcher are challenging a subpoena forcing him to answer questions about his role in an alleged coup plot in Equatorial Guinea.

South Africa's high court will hear the challenge on 21 September, the day before Sir Mark is to answer questions in a Cape Town magistrates' court.

A lawyer said the subpoena infringed the 51-year-old's right to a fair trial.

Sir Mark is due in court in November on charges under anti-mercenary laws. He denies involvement in the alleged plot. Equatorial Guinea investigators have set the questions they want Sir Mark to answer about his role in the alleged conspiracy to topple President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. The son of former British prime minister Baroness Thatcher was arrested last month by South African police and released after posting bail of £167,000, reportedly paid by his 78-year-old mother.

He is accused of helping to fund the purchase of a helicopter, breaching laws banning South African residents from taking part in foreign military action.

He faces 15 years in jail if convicted.

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Thatcher upbeat on court case

By Gordon Bell Thursday October 28, 05:47 PM

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Mark Thatcher has expressed confidence he has won the first skirmish with the South African justice department over whether he must answer questions about a coup plot in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.

"Having heard the arguments of both sides, I remain confident in the merits of the application that I made and I will await with interest and attentively for the judgement of the court," he said on the steps of the Cape High Court.

"I know that you have all been listening to what the bench has had to say in the past three days and I can only commend their comments to you all," Thatcher said, referring to constant interjections from the lead judge who questioned elements of the state's case.

The 51-year-old son of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher challenged an order that he appear in court on November 26 to answer questions sent by Equatorial Guinea over his suspected role in a foiled coup in the West African state, the continent's third largest oil producer.

He is also facing charges under South Africa's anti- mercenary laws after being arrested in Cape Town on August 25 for allegedly financing the plot to oust Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

Thatcher denies the charges and his lawyers say the questioning would infringe on his right to silence and to a fair trial in South Africa and in Equatorial Guinea should he later be extradited.

The full bench of the High Court reserved judgement after three days of arguments, and gave little indication of when a judgement could be expected.

"The court is obviously not in a position to give a judgement right away, we will try get one out as soon as possible," Judge Deon van Zyl said.


Equatorial Guinea wants evidence from Thatcher as a witness in its prosecution of 14 suspected foreign mercenaries already in the country. It has said it may seek his extradition to answer similar charges.

The state has argued it was in line with South Africa's national policy to compel Thatcher to answer questions put to him by investigators from Equatorial Guinea.

"It was a policy decision on whether South Africa should cooperate with Equatorial Guinea ... it is not up to the court to interfere in that process, unless there are compelling reasons," said Michael Donen, acting for the South African government.

Lawyer Peter Hodes said South Africa's justice department had acted irrationally in agreeing to the questioning and cooperating with a country where the justice system was "abominable" and human rights regularly violated.

"My learned friend says the process was hurried. It was so hurried that it was botched up," he said.

Thatcher's lawyers are expected to request the questioning be set aside should judgement not be made before November 26 and both legal teams have the right to appeal.

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Straw faces pressure over African coup plot

David Pallister
Monday November 15, 2004
The Guardian

The government will come under increasing pressure this week to explain what action it took to protect British citizens in the West African state of Equatorial Guinea - after Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, admitted that he knew about the attempted coup six weeks before it took place in March.

Mr Straw's admission, in a terse four-word parliamentary answer, confirms reports that the plot - which has embroiled Sir Mark Thatcher in South Africa and a raft of his friends and associates - was known to western intelligence services.

He told the shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram that the government had known about the coup attempt "in late January 2004".

The South African mercenary vanguard for the coup, lead by former Old Etonian and SAS officer Simon Mann, was arrested at Harare airport on March 7 and jailed.

At the same time a second group, led by former South African commander, Nick du Toit, was arrested in Equatorial Guinea's capital Malabo. His trial restarts tomorrow.

Evidence that plans for the coup prematurely leaked are contained in two South African intelligence documents seen by the Guardian.

The first, an analysis of the preparations and ultimate collapse of the coup, says the plot ters failed to follow through with a decision, taken in January, to move the logistical base out of South Africa to Namibia and Cyprus. "As Du Toit (and others) warned, the South African intelligence authorities were clearly onto the plan and Mann should have moved the whole operation out of South Africa immediately," it says.

An earlier report in December last year clearly identified planning for the coup by a group of former South African soldiers attached to the apartheid regime's notorious counter-insurgency unit, the 32 Buffalo Battalion.

Individuals from the battalion - all arrested in Harare or Malabo - were identified as setting up a fishing company in Equatorial Guinea "to present a legitimate front for planned militant actions against the government."

From Mr Straw's admission it is now clear that these reports reached M16 in London.

But given the likelihood that the plan could have resulted in bloodshed, Mr Ancram has asked for more answers. He has tabled questions to Mr Straw and the defence secretary Geoff Hoon asking what contingency plans were drawn up to evacuate British nations before the coup happened.

He also wants to know if any British armed forces were within reach of Equatorial Guinea at the time of the coup, and whether the British government warned it about the conspiracy.

President Teodoro Obiang, who will soon preside over the third largest oil fields in Africa, has said he was warned only by South Africa and Angola.

The Foreign Office claims that relations with President Obiang are "cordial". The UK is officially represented by the ambassador in Cameroon.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said it was not known how many Britons work in Equatorial Guinea, but the department's website notes that "an increasing number of British nationals work [there], mainly in oil and related industries". The spokesman said he could not elaborate on Mr Straw's answer because the matter was subjudice.

Sir Mark faces charges in South Africa of having provided some of the finance for the coup by an investment in an aircraft services company. He denies any knowing involvement.

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