Plea to extradite Mark Thatcher.

The Equatorial Guinea Government has asked South Africa to extradite Mark Thatcher, son of the former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, who is under house arrest for his alleged role in a coup plot against Equatorial Guinea.

A lawyer for the Government, Lucie Bourthoumieu, said on Friday that Equatorial Guinea has ``strong hopes'' of achieving the extradition.

South African authorities arrested Mr. Thatcher at his home in Cape Town on Wednesday in connection with the alleged foiled coup plot in this oil-rich west African nation. Equatorial Guinea accuses Mr. Thatcher and others of being prime financiers of the alleged plot.

`South Africa is cooperating, and they are willing to fight furiously against all mercenaryism and terrorism,'' Mr. Bourthoumieu said.

No arrest warrants or formal charges have been announced here, normally among the first steps in a legal extradition. In a related development, a Zimbabwean court on Friday ruled that the Briton, Simon Mann, was guilty of attempting to buy arms for an alleged coup plot in Equatorial Guinea, but acquitted 66 other suspected mercenaries.

The magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe said: ``The action by the accused (Mann) amounts at the most to attempting to purchase firearms. The accused is found guilty ...'' Mr. Guvamombe acquitted 66 other suspected mercenaries detained in Harare's high security Chikurubi prison although they still face sentencing on other minor charges.

[Source: The Hindu, Associated Press, India, 28Aug04]

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