[JURIST] A Zimbabwe court ruled Wednesday that British national Simon Mann [BBC profile] could be extradited to Equatorial Guinea [JURIST news archive] to face charges of plotting a coup against Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo [BBC profile]. Mann's defense team had argued against Mann's extradition on the grounds that he is likely to face torture and possible death in Equatorial Guinea. Zimbabwean prosecutors said Equatorial Guinea had provided assurances that Mann would not face the death penalty and would receive a fair trial with a judge appointed by the African Union (AU) [official website]. Harare Magistrate Omega Mugumbate said in her decision ordering the extradition that Mann had not adequately shown that he might face torture while the Zimbabwean prosecutors had "provided a prima facie case against [Mann]." Mann's lawyer said the ruling would be appealed and Mugumbate ordered Mann not to be extradited until his appeal is heard before the High Court.
Mann, a former officer with the Special Air Service (SAS), has been serving a four-year prison sentence in Zimbabwe since September 2004 after being convicted [JURIST report] for attempting to purchase weapons without a license. In 2004, Mann and over 60 mercenaries were sentenced [JURIST report] in Zimbabwe for plotting a coup. In 2005, Sir Mark Thatcher [BBC profile], son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, pleaded guilty in South Africa to charges relating to the failed coup and was fined [JURIST reports]. Reuters has more.