Skip to comments.Mark Thatcher urged to accept a plea bargain -
Posted on 12/25/2004 5:03:39 PM PST by UnklGene
Mark Thatcher urged to accept a plea bargain -
By Jane Flanagan in Johannesburg (Filed: 26/12/2004)
Sir Mark Thatcher is under growing pressure from his friends to negotiate a plea bargain with South African authorities over his alleged involvement in a plan to topple the dictator of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.
The Telegraph has learnt that Sir Mark's supporters are urging him to admit to lesser charges, that would not carry a jail sentence, and allow him to move on. A quick trial would allow Sir Mark to rebuild his damaged business and personal life.
It would also allow him to be reunited with his wife, Diane, and their two children, who moved to America to begin a new life shortly after his arrest in August.
The idea of a plea bargain has been given added impetus by the realisation that the South African authorities are seeking to establish a watertight case against Sir Mark, who has strongly rejected charges that he helped to fund the putative coup.
South Africa's elite investigations unit, the Scorpions, recently came away empty-handed from an interrogation of Simon Mann, the former SAS captain accused of masterminding the coup, who is serving a seven-year jail sentence in Zimbabwe on weapons charges.
South Africa's anti-mercenary legislation is a relatively new statute which has yet to be fully tested in the courts. A highly visible failure to gain a conviction against Sir Mark, in what would be an expensive and lengthy trial, could irretrievably discredit the law.
Sir Mark's advisers believe that a guilty plea to a less serious charge possibly a technical offence entirely unrelated to mercenary activities could be arranged as an acceptable compromise for both sides.
One friend said: "Mark has a lot of diverse business interests. Like anybody else in his position, if those business interests are gone through in enough forensic detail there is probably some technical infringement that they could throw at him. He might end up paying a fine, the investigators would save face, and then it would all be over."
Prosecutors in South Africa remain adamant that Sir Mark was a "money man" behind the alleged plan to remove President Teodoro Obiang from power in Equatorial Guinea and replace him with an exiled opposition leader.
Magistrates in Cape Town have imposed a stringent bail regime on Sir Mark who is obliged to register at a local police station every day.
Sir Mark's bail conditions prevent him from travelling more than a few miles from his thatched mansion in the city.
When his mother, Baroness Thatcher, arrived last week to spend the Christmas holidays with him, he was unable to meet her from the airport because he is also banned from going to any port.
Simon Mann was the head of Executive Outcomes and a man of the highest standing.
i believe Mann must of felt sure he was morally on the right side of things or he wouldn't of tried it. he could make a LOT more money by working for the Dark Side of things.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.