28 July 2004
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On 28 July 2004, Simon Mann, a British citizen, pleaded guilty to attempting to buy dangerous weapons in Zimbabwe. Mann, together with others, was arrested on 7 March 2004 in Harare, where their aircraft landed en route to Equatorial Guinea.
Upon landing it was claimed that the pilot failed to declare that there were 60 persons on board in addition to himself, the co-pilot, and navigator. While in Zimbabwe, Mann intended to procure arms to equip a group of mercenaries to overthrow the government of President Teodoro Obiang, allegedly on the instigation of Severo Moto, the leader of the opposition in Equatorial Guinea.
Moto, based in Spain, allegedly offered Mann and his group $1.8m and oil rights in Equatorial Guinea. Mann was as a founding member of Executive Outcomes, a company that made its fortune protecting oil installations during the Angolan Civil War.
The arrest of the group was allegedly the result of a tip-off by the South African and Angolan governments. Mann eventually stood trial in Equatorial Guinea. In 2009, Mann was released after serving 15 months of the 34 year sentence he received after being tried in Equatorial Guinea.