Mann: I was not the main man
Updated on 11 March 2008
Simon Mann, the old Etonian who faces trial in Equatorial Guinea for plotting to overthrow the country's president, gives his first interview since his arrest.
It was all about oil and regime change. Equatorial Guinea and its dictatorial government had the oil, a whole host of others wanted it.
It was a hare-brained scheme involving a host of seasoned mercenaries and darker forces behind the scenes.
A planeload of men and guns bound through Zimbawe up to the tiny, exasperatingly rich dictatorship set beneath the bulge in West Africa.
'You go tiger shooting but you don't expect the tiger to win.'Simon Mann
The repercussions of its discovery and failure on the tarmac of Harare airport continue to this day.
Sir Mark Thatcher was convicted by a South African court for "unwitting" involvement and many of the mercenaries incarcerated in jails across the continent. Most prominent amongst them, old Etonian ex-army Simon Mann - manager of the coup.
"You go tiger shooting but you don't expect the tiger to win" - the verdict of former British Army officer and professional solder of fortune Simon Mann, in his first interview about the plot to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea in 2004.
What was a tale of dogs of war has now become a courtroom drama.
"I was the manager," says Mann in his first public admission of guilt. But he claims he was not "the main man". Instead, he fingers others, including the governments of Spain and South Africa.
Four years on, this is a story that continues to reverberate. But what was a tale of dogs of war has now become a courtroom drama.
Mann himself is about face trial for plotting to overthrow the president of Equatorial Guinea. Its government - which has so far failed to win its legal action - is still trying to recover millions from Mann, the British businessman Ely Calil and others in a case that has now reached the House of Lords.
Will either hearing get to the bottom of who planned to overthrow the ruler of this tiny oil-rich state?