PIETERMARITZBURG, South Africa -- Paroled mercenary leader Col. Mike Hoare today thanked the Seychelles president he sought to topple in an abortive coup three years ago and said he would never again fight for money.
Hoare, 65, was released from prison at Pietermaritzburg, about 300 miles southeast of Johannesburg, Monday after serving almost three years of a 10-year sentence for hijacking.
At home today in Hilton, outside Pietermaritzburg, he told a news conference he would never again fight as a mercenary soldier.
He said he planned to write a book to 'set the record straight' about the failed Seychelles coup in November 1981.
The Seychelles islands are 1,300 miles east of the east African coast, 700 miles northeast of Madagascar, and strategically located midway between the Kenyan coast and the U.S. naval base at Diego Garcia.
Meeting with five veterans of the campaign launched from South Africa, Hoare thanked Seychelles President Albert Rene for pardoning seven of his men who were left behind when the assault failed.
The seven were sentenced to death for treason but Rene later pardoned them and deported them to South Africa.
Hoare, a former British Coldstream Guards colonel and a veteran of mercenary wars in Biafra and the former Belgian Congo, now Zaire, led 42 men to the Seychelles in an attempt to topple the leftist president.
The men fought their way from an airport building to an Air India Boeing plane after customs officials discovered their weapons. They hijacked the aircraft to Durban, South Africa, leaving seven men behind.
Hoare said the decision to abandon the attempt was the right one.
'I owed it to my men,' he said. 'It was the right thing to do.'
In evidence during his trial for hijacking, Hoare said South African government and intelligence officials helped plan the coup and the South African Defense Force provided the Soviet-made weapons they carried.