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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 August, 2004, 23:15 GMT 00:15 UK
Zimbabwe 'tortured coup suspects'
Harry Carlse (left) and Lourens Horn waiting to leave Zimbabwe
Harry Carlse (left) and Lourens Horn say malnutrition was rife in jail
Two South African men released from a Zimbabwe prison after being cleared of charges of plotting a coup say they were stripped and beaten in jail.

Harry Carlse and Lourens Horn were among 67 men imprisoned in March for an alleged coup plot in Equatorial Guinea.

Zimbabwean authorities said in April they would probe jail torture claims.

Equatorial Guinea says it is pursuing those it says were behind the coup attempt - including Mark Thatcher, son of former British PM Margaret Thatcher.

The Zimbabwe trial ended on Friday, with former British paratrooper Simon Mann found guilty of trying to buy weapons.

The remainder of the men were cleared of the more serious weapons charges but pleaded guilty to aviation and immigration violations.

All those found guilty will be sentenced on 10 September.

Mr Carlse and Mr Horn are now back in South Africa, where they say they expect to face new charges under the country's anti-mercenary laws, Reuters news agency reports.

House arrest

Equatorial Guinea has meanwhile said it is seeking an international arrest warrant for those it accuses of being the key figures in the coup attempt - including Simon Mann and Mark Thatcher.


But the country's Deputy Prime Minister, Ricardo Mangue Obama Nfube, denied it had asked for the extradition of Sir Mark from South Africa.

Mark Thatcher is currently under house arrest in South Africa after being accused of helping to finance the coup plot.

A lawyer acting for Equatorial Guinea's government had earlier said a request had been made for his extradition.

Shock threat

The South African coup suspects have alleged they were tortured by their captors in Zimbabwe, along with their co-accused.

"I was stripped naked and beaten with a stick," said Mr Carlse. "I slept in leg irons for a week and a half."

He said he had lost a large amount of weight because of conditions inside the prison, where malnutrition and disease were rife.

The men said they were frequently denied adequate food and water and survived on a diet of porridge and cabbage.

"There was physical torture as well as mental torture," said Mr Horn. "They said if we refused to make a statement they would give us electric shocks."




SEE ALSO:
'Mercenary leader' found guilty
27 Aug 04  |  Africa
Mark Thatcher under house arrest
26 Aug 04  |  Africa
Profile: Simon Mann
22 Jul 04  |  UK
Country profile: Equatorial Guinea
16 Jul 04  |  Country profiles



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