Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Mark Thatcher & Simon Mann's African Coup

Convictions and Sentences

The investigations of Riggs Bank and the American oil companies are continuing, but African courts have disposed of charges against all but one of the men charged in the coup. Last November a court in Equatorial Guinea convicted all but three of the men arrested there. They were given stiff sentences but avoided the death penalty, which was an option.

Nick du Toit, the South African mercenary who helped Simon Mann recruit the dogs of war, was sentenced to 34 years in jail.

At trial, prosecutors introduced into evidence du Toit's earlier statement that Simon Mann recruited him and he in turn recruited mercenaries. The statement said the intent of the coup was to install Severo Moto as president. However, du Toit repudiated the confession during the trial, saying he was coerced by interrogators who threatened to kill him.

Four other South Africans got 17-year jail sentences, and six Armenians were sent to jail for terms ranging from 14 to 24 years. Three additional South Africans were acquitted.

Severo Moto, the exiled opposition leader, was sentenced in absentia to 63 years in prison, and eight Guinean Moto supporters living abroad were given 52 years each. Meanwhile in Zimbabwe, a judge in September sentenced Simon Mann to seven years, the stiffest penalty of nearly 70 men arrested at the Harare airport. However, an appeals court in Zimbabwe later reduced Mann's sentence to four years.

The two pilots of the jet got 16 months each, and the 64 mercenaries on board were handed 12-month sentences for immigration offenses.