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It was all a big con job, says Thatcher

Published Oct 1, 2004

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Authorities in Equatorial Guinea deliberately misled the South African government about his alleged involvement in a botched coup attempt, Sir Mark Thatcher has claimed.

Thatcher also lashed out at South African justice authorities for granting a request from Equatorial Guinea prosecutors that he be questioned about his role in the alleged coup, and argued that their decision was based on "defective and incomplete" documentation.

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Thatcher is seeking a Cape High Court order to set aside a subpoena compelling him to answer questions about a suspected coup plot in Equatorial Guinea. He says he is innocent of any part in the alleged coup.

According to Thatcher, Equatorial Guinea attorney-general Jose Olo Obono misled South African justice authorities about the evidence given by alleged mercenary Nick du Toit, who is one of 19 people on trial in Malabo for allegedly plotting to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

In his request for the South African government's assistance, which was granted by Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla and Director-General of Justice and Constitutional Development Vusumzi Pikoli, Obono said Du Toit had claimed to have met Thatcher "on a number of occasions".

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"What Obono fails to state in the request is that, as appears from the questioning by Du Toit's own lawyer ... Du Toit indicated that his meeting with me was not illegal, but a 'normal business deal' relating to the purchase of a helicopter in Sudan.

"This would not have been known to (Mabandla and Pikoli) - and definitely not the magistrates (who issued the subpoena against Thatcher) - who were not furnished with the extract from Du Toit's evidence," Thatcher said in an affidavit before the court.

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