Thatcher Quits South Africa after Deal Saves Him from Prison
Sir Mark Thatcher was flying out of South Africa tonight to be reunited with his wife and children after a plea bargain deal saved him from prison.
The son of the former prime minister pleaded guilty in a Cape Town court to unwittingly helping bankroll a botched coup plot in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, in exchange for a £265,000 fine, a suspended jail sentence and the right to rejoin his family in the United States.
The bizarre plot drew mercenaries from elite British schools into an attempt to overthrow a dictator with reported cannibalistic tendencies in Africa’s third-largest oil producer.
Mark Thatcher admitted in the Cape High Court that he paid £146,000 in two instalments last year to charter an Alouette III helicopter that was to be used in the takeover attempt. But he said in court documents that he was told it would be used for commercial purposes.
Thatcher acknowledged in the documents that he began to suspect the helicopter would be used for military reasons before he made the payments, although he said it never actually left southern Africa.
Thatcher has until January 17 to pay the fine or face a five year prison sentence with a further four years suspended for five years.Full Article @ news.scotsman.com