Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Zimbabwe: "mercenary" leader pleads guilty to some charges

[Simon Mann ...] pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempting to possess dangerous weapons, and could face up to [ten] years in jail.

[... He] also entered a limited guilty plea to a second charge of purchasing weapons, saying he should only be charged with the attempt since the deal never went through.

Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe quickly convicted Mann on the first charge.

[...] Prosecutor Stephen Musona called as a witness ZDI marketing manager Hope Mutize, who said Mann and Nick du Toit, one of the men held in Equatorial Guinea, approached him to buy weapons.

Mutize said du Toit indicated he wanted to supply some of the weapons to rebels fighting the Congolese government. A paper quote for the purchase, which Mutize said was signed by all three men, was entered as evidence.

"What we must look at is the fact that it is common cause that money changed hands and that money was for the purpose of purchasing firearms," Musona's colleague Lawrence Phiri said later in the state's final submission. "It becomes clear that in so far as he was concerned, the transaction was complete."

Defense lawyer Jonathan Samkange argued that Mann never actually took possession of the weapons -- a distinction which could be important when sentencing is considered.

"There had been no delivery. The purchasers had not even inspected the weapons. It is my respectful submission that in this case there was only a mere attempt. Indeed an attempt of a very low degree," he said.1

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  • Zimbabwe: 67 "mercenaries" plead guilty to some charges

    1: Mapenzauswa, Stella. (2004, July 28). 'Mercenary' Pleads Guilty to Zimbabwe Weapon Charge. Reuters.