Zimbabwe Security Still Holding To Seized Plane
Harare – Zimbabwe security authorities are still holding on the Boeing 727 seized from mercenaries in 2004 at the Harare International airport following the arrest of mercenary leader,Simon Francis Mann and 69 others on charges of plotting to overthrow the government of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Guinea.\r\n
The Boeing 767, which is still at Manyame military airbase hangers, has not been flown since it was seized five years ago although they were efforts by the Zimbabwe authorities to lease it to some business man in the Democratic Republic of Congo, military sources told RadioVOP.
The plane, which was seized together with military equipment worth 100 000 British pounds and US 200 000 dollars in cash is being serviced by technicians from the DRC, sources said.
“The plane has not been flown since 2004.Some plane experts from DRC are coming every three months to service the plane.They do not fly but only engage in ground running,” an senior officer with the Airforce of Zimbabwe said.
Zimbabwe is aware flying the plane, which carries over 80 passengers outside Zimbabwe will result in its seizure and if they fly it locally it will be shunned by locals, the source said. The government is paying for the servicing of the plane.
Mann , who is serving a 34 year sentence was extradited to the Equatorial Guinea after serving briefly a seven year sentence in Zimbabwe but has pleaded not guilty to charges of planning to overthrow Nguema.
An advance team of 14 mercenaries which had already landed in Guinea was sentenced to 34 years in prison while the other 68 who were with Mann in Harare were released and one died in prison in Harare.
The coup plot by Mann’s team roped in Sir Mark Thatcher, the son of the former Britain Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who was accused of bankrolling the attempts of overthrowing Nguema regime.
Mann and his team in their defence said when they were arrested in Harare were on their way to diamond mines in the DRC to provide security.