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Who is Simon Mann?

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 11 March 2008

Who is the former British special forces officer deported from Zimbabwe to Equitorial Guinea to face coup plot charges?

The military years

Mann was born into privilege. The son of an England cricket captain, and heir to a brewing fortune, he studied at Eton.

From there he went to the prestigious military academy Sandhurst and then entered the Scots Guard - a regiment associated with royalty and the upper echelons of British society.

From there he entered the SAS. During his time with the army's special-forces unit, he reportedly served in Cyprus, Germany, central America and Northern Ireland.

He left the military in 1981, although returned briefly ten years later o work for Britain's Gulf War commander, Gen Peter de la Billiere.

The 1980s and 1990s

During the 1980s, Mann sold computer security equipment and ran a business providing bodyguards to wealthy clients.

In the early 1990s, he set up Executive Outcomes, a security consultancy, with his associate Tony Buckingham.

The consultancy delivered advice - and armed guards - to protect businesses operating in conflict zones and earned millions from the Angolan government by guarding oil installations against rebel attacks.

In the mid-1990s, Mann entered a partnership with fellow former Scots Guardsman, Tim Spicer and together they established another private security firm, Sandline International.

The firm's role in the civil war in Sierra Leone is unclear. It is believed the firm delivered "logistical support", including guns, to the country while it was under a UN arms embargo.

According to the Times' Michael Gove, mercenaries working for Sandline International helped defeat the rebels led by Foday Sankoh and paved the way for "democratic rule".

After 2000

In 2002 Mann turned actor, playing a British officer in a film about the Bloody Sunday killings in Northern Ireland.

Director Paul Greengrass described Mann as a "humane man, but an adventurer... very English, a romantic, tremendously good company".

Mann was jailed in Zimbabwe in 2004 after conviction on charges of seeking weapons without a licence as part of a plot against Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

Sixty-six other suspected mercenaries were arrested with Mann when their plane was impounded in the capital, Harare, in March 2004.

Mann has always fought attempts to extradite him to oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, which has a poor human rights record, where he faces a 30-year jail term.

He is married with children.

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