Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Is justice being done in Simon Mann’s trial?

June 19, 2008

Simon MannEton-educated British mercenary Simon Mann has gone on trial in Equatorial Guinea for his role in a 2004 coup plot to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
The state prosecutor is seeking a jail term of nearly 32 years for Mann, who has admitted in a British TV interview this year that he plotted to topple Obiang.
Mann’s defence lawyer has argued that his client was a “mere instrument” in the plot, but not one of the main organisers. The prosecution has named Mark Thatcher, son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, as one of the businessmen conspirators who invested in the coup plot. Mark Thatcher denies knowing about the coup and is not on trial in Malabo.
So, with Mann’s trial and the death of notorious French mercenary Bob Denard last year, is the era of the “dogs of war” over in Africa? Or will Equatorial Guinea’s huge oil riches soon tempt others to hire foreign guns for a violent takeover of power?
Is justice being done in the case of Mann, or should others be with him there in the dock?
obiang_nguema1.jpgThe rule of President Obiang, who overthrew his dictatorial uncle Francisco Macias Nguema in a 1979 coup, has been sharply criticised by international human rights groups who accuse him of abuses and restricting political freedoms. Some might argue that a “regime change” such as the one plotted by Mann might have been good for Equatorial Guinea. What do you think?


I think that 31 years is an excessive sentence but saying that, when one hears of some of the alleged predelictions of Mr Nguema i feel that Mr Mann has gotten away quite lightly! (I haven’t seen any of equatorial guinea’s prisons though, thank God!). A change of regime is welcome when the potential oustee is a maniacal cannibal but the questions that should always be asked are… who is organising the coup, for what ends, will the people see any real change, what will the impact be on the region as a whole? There are a lot of issues to consider.

Posted by Marc Falconer | Report as abusive

No matter what regime is in power, we must remind ourselves that this is Africa. Democracy tends to prove to be an impossible course of action. Even if the coup plot had been succesful, there would only be another regime established in the former regime’s place. The only real difference being that the new leader (which in this case is a past leader) would merely satisfy whatever interests were held by Mark Thatcher, the other interested parties in Britain, and whoever in South Africa was alleged to be connected to the plot. It makes little difference who is running this African country as they will most likely be in power to satisfy their own personal interests and the interests of those who helped them acquire that power.

Posted by Henry Dom | Report as abusive

Of course, there’s something wrong with a man who overthrew his dictatorial uncle in 1979 and is still overseeing the plunder of his country’s wealth. But it is up to the people of the Equatorial Guinea -NOT THE DOGS OF WAR PLEASE – to replace him through the ballot, bullet or other means they so wish. How, pray, do you achieve the ends of democracy, human rights and other such lofty ideals by replacing an old African dictator with sophisticated oil-thirsty white merchants of death?

Posted by Otieno Otieno | Report as abusive

I totally agree with the first comment. Very wise..

All taken into consideration, I still feel sorry for any human who’s in Manns position..

Bloody Thathers by the way – and I mean that literally!!

Rune (Denmark)

Posted by Rune Friis Sørensen | Report as abusive

this is not justice. justice would have been a successful removal of that disgusting despot in power currently.

free simon mann

Posted by Mario | Report as abusive

look at what Robert Mugarbe’s doing, another despot that needs to be erased from the map…maybe past colonial rule is to blame, but these African dictator’s make Africa what it is today….a complete shambles and a horrible eyesore…i’m on Simon Mann’s side, money or not….these dictators are needs Western intervention once again or that continent is going to collapse very soon!


European bussiness men have always sponsored coups in Africa to replace leaders who are not doing things in their favour with puppets who nods their heads to everything they say. This is one of attempted those cases. The greater people of Africa had suffered as a result of this stupid and greed tactic. Whether a man is a dictator or not. He doesn’t deserve to be toppled by Mercenaries but by the civilian population he rules with an iron fist. Death penalty would be fitting for Mann’s crimes. Bring in Thatcher to face the music too.

Posted by Pule Nong | Report as abusive

Whether or not Simon Mann’s plot was one of humanitarian aid or wealth snatching is irrelevant, he was planning on overthrowing a tyrannical dictatorship which would only have been good for the country. He will be handed a lenghty sentence, and this is justice, as he has committed a serious crime in EG. From an outsider’s point of view or an EG citizen’s point of view, one can only have sympathy for Mann’s predicament, he would have had a v.positive effect on the country.

Posted by John Roosenvelt | Report as abusive

Justice…? Justice would have been the overthrow and removal of the cannibal tyrant Teodoro Obiang Nguema. Africa (as well as Europe and North America) owe this man and his colleagues (Executive Outcomes, Sandline International, etc.) a debt of gratitude for doing what so many governments were afraid to do publicly, less their hands get dirtier.

How much longer will the world tolerate the regimes of Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe? The world points fingers at the leaders of these nations for the hardships there endured by the people – but the international community is equally guilty for doing nothing to remove these people from power.

Posted by Bardas Sudislav | Report as abusive

What we have here is someone who was trying to save a nation from a cruel dictator that they themselves are incapable of freeing themselves from. He certainly didn’t need the money, and maybe he was doing it for kicks. But, he certainly wasn’t acting alone, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with wrestling the sovereignty away from a nation that’s an abysmal failure. Would it be a terrible thing if a mercenary from the United Kingdom were to overtake Sudan? How about an Indian mercenary claiming Myanmar? Not so bad, I do say.

Bonus; cheaper oil upon conquest of Equitoreal Guinea. In fact, I may start raising an army of mercenaries myself.. living in the US, it’ll be very cheap to acquire the guns here… then…


Mr Mann and his buddies did not plan to overthrow the despotic ruler of Equitorial Guinea for the benefit of the Equitorial Guineans. This was a plot to replace one despot with another, seize control of the country’s oil and enrich themselves.

They, including the despot currently in charge, all deserve to pay a very high price (whatever that may be)for their crimes against the citizens of Equitorial Guinea.

Alex Brown

Posted by alex brown | Report as abusive

Mr Mann deserve everything that is comming his way. He and his greedy associates would have plunder the resources that belong to people of that country for there own wicked ends. Which is exactly what is going on in the country now. So if one crminal lock up another criminal it is fair game. It offers no benefit what so ever to people who is in jail Mann or Obiang. He understands the risks before he emback on that venture and his case will serve as eye opener for other dubious group of people who wants to plunder Africa as ussual.

Posted by Dayo | Report as abusive

Lets see, if a coup was attempted in the UK would it be tolerated, I think not, the west seems to regard Africa and her leaders with very little respect, Africans are not culturally the same as the people in the west and I do not think they should be expected to be ruled in the same way, maybe the political system in the west works for westerners but would it work for Africans they just do not have the same values, I think that we should consider what the blacks in Zimbabwe has been through, the many years of British rule where they were driven off their land by the whites and were treated as slaves in their own country then the whites declared UDI and broke away from British rule and the blacks were subjected to the evil and wicked apartheid system, the country went through years of international sanctions and in spite of all this the country some how is still pulling together I think this uncle tom of an opposition leader Morgan whats his name should support his president Robert Mugabe and stop whingeing and help to build up his country. God Bless Zimbabwe

Posted by Earl O'Flaherty | Report as abusive

Africa is a joke and corrupt and we (British) need to intervene to get our chaps out ! Africa is Africa enough said!!

Posted by christian | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see