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President demands pilot arrest answers
THE President of the Central African Republic (CAR) has demanded answers over the case of a young pilot who has been imprisoned for four months over a massacre in the war-torn country.
Francois Bozize has summoned the judge investigating the case of David Simpson, of Gillamoor, North Yorkshire, to discuss the probe into the brutal killings of 13 illegal gold miners following mounting international pressure.
The former pupil of Lady Lumley’s School, in Pickering, was arrested after reporting finding the bodies with machete wounds in a wilderness area, while working for hunting firm Central African Wildlife Adventures on its 20,000sq km concession.
Mr Simpson said he had been the victim of a conspiracy involving the country’s justice minister, who has recently been arrested for his part in a botched coup d’etat.
International group Human Rights Watch has concluded the killings bore the hallmarks of the Ugandan rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army.
However, residents of Bakouma, near the site of the massacre in April, staged a protest march this week over the human rights group’s findings, claiming it was a case of “white people helping white people”.
Following diplomatic talks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the British and Swedish consuls visited the jail in the CAR’s capital, Bangui, where Mr Simpson and 12 co-workers charged over the massacre are being held in a single cell.
Mr Simpson said: “The consuls were very positive when they came, having had information from the CAR government and the British Foreign Office that we were to be released this week.
“But they had their heads down on Thursday because they had received no further information. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster week.”
He believed the talks between the president and the investigating judge yesterday could open the path to being released from prison within two weeks as the judge has repeatedly told Mr Simpson he is convinced of his innocence.
The 24-year-old, whose family runs a pheasant farm on the North York Moors, said he was expecting to be interviewed by the judge on Tuesday as the final stage of the investigation.
He said: “The international pressure is protecting us, but it has also slowed things down as the CAR government are scared of doing things wrong.
“Some days I am extremely angry. You can’t make up what has happened to me, how incredibly terrible this government is. I keep a set routine, keep myself busy reading books and staying fit and laugh about my situation, or you would go crazy.
“It’s really sad the government is not trying to catch the rebels who killed 13 people in the prime of their lives.”