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Seychelles withdraws treason charge against mercenary

By
CHARLES MITCHELL

VICTORIA, Seychelles -- The state prosecutor withdrew treason charges against the brother-in-law of mercenary leader 'Mad Mike' Hoare today but another mercenary was ordered to stand trial in connection with the bungled coup attempt against the Seychelles' socialist government.

Prosecutor Bernard Rassool dropped the charges against Robert Sims, brother-in-law of Hoare, who led the mercenaries in the failed coup last November.

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The court rejected a guilty plea to the treason charge by Martin Dolinchek, a South African intelligence officer, and ordered to him face a nine-man jury trial.

On Monday, four mercenaries -- Zimbabwean Aubrey Brookes, South African Jerry Puren and Britons Bernard Carey and Roger England - pleaded guilty to treason against the Seychelles, a group of sparsely inhabited Indian Ocean islands off the coast of East Africa.

Chief Justice Earl Seaton ordered the four to leave the courtroom to await sentencing at the conclusion of Dolinchek's trial which prosecution sources said could take up to two weeks.

If convicted, the mercenaries could face the death penalty.

One mercenary, Susan Ingles, 47, Sims' common law wife, was released last week and deported to her native South Africa.

The treason charges stem from the November 25 attack on the Seychelles international airport and a nearby army barracks led by Hoare, an infamous 'hired gun' whose exploits reach back to the Congo crisis of the early 1960s.

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Hoare and 44 other mercenaries were stopped at the Seychelles airport after flying in from South Africa carrying automatic weapons.

After a shootout at the airport that left one mercenary and one soldier dead, the mercenaries unsuccessfully attacked a nearby army base.

Hoare and the mercenaries escaped back to South Africa aboard a hijacked air India Boeing 707. They are currently on trial in South Africa for commandeering the aircraft.

The mercenaries on trial in the Seychelles were part of an advance crew sent to gather intelligence on troop and police movements before the coup, which aimed to oust President Albert Rene and restore former president James Mancham to power.

O Monday, the state withdrew a charge of illegally importing weapons into the Seychelles against the four mercenaries who pleaded guilty to the main treason charge.

Sims pleaded guilty to the arms charge that carries a maximum 20-year jail term. Dolinchek was not asked to plead to the charge.

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