Simon Mann, the Brit accused of plotting to overthrow Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang, is trying to figure that out. His trial — all in Spanish — began yesterday. Mann, an Eton-educated former SAS officer, doesn’t speak the language. His story, though not much in our news, is front-age news in the United Kingdom, not least because of his association with Mark Thatcher, who has been accused of being a financier of the plot. Mann has been in EG’s infamous Black Beach prison in Malabo since February, where he was deposited after being seized in Zimbabwe following a three-year prison term there for the same alleged conspiracy.
Through mutual friends, I’m told Mann’s family is terrified, despite the prosecution’s promise that the government will not seek the death penalty. Mann’s only representation is an EG attorney. His own legal staff is afraid to attend, I’m told. Can’t imagine why. For a hint of the flavor of justice EG-style, from Martin Fletcher reporting in The Australian from Mann’s trial in Malabo:
It was the biggest event that the sultry little capital of Equatorial Guinea had seen since 1979, when the previous dictator, president Macias Nguema, was overthrown, tried in a cage suspended from the ceiling of a cinema, sentenced to death 101 times, then executed by firing squad.
Read the whole thing here.