British mercenary pardoned over Equatorial Guinea plot

simon_mannBritish mercenary Simon Mann, jailed last year for his part in plotting a coup in Equatorial Guinea, has been arranged a presidential pardon, the country's Information Ministry said Tuesday.

The pardon was given on humanitarian grounds, taking into consideration Mann's health and age, his need to receive regular medical treatment and to be with his family, the ministry said.

Mann is allowed to leave the country immediately and is banned from returning, the ministry said.

A former British military officer, Mann was serving a 34-year sentence for his part in plotting the coup. He confessed during the trial last year that he tried to topple long-time ruler Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo - but he denied being the plot's leader.

During the trial, Mann testified he was a "junior" in the organization which plotted to overthrow the tiny west African country's president in 2004, and that Lebanese businessman Eli Calil was the man in charge.

Mann is a former British army commando who was arrested in 2004 after a plane carrying him and about 60 mercenaries landed in Zimbabwe.

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