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North Yorkshire pilot is cleared
THE parents of a North Yorkshire pilot detained in Africa after discovering a mass murder spoke of their relief last night after he was cleared of all charges – but said their nightmare will not be over until he is back on home ground.
David Simpson had hoped to fly home from the Central African Republic at the weekend, but suffered yet another setback when the authorities confiscated his passport.
His father, Peter, who runs a pheasant farm at Gillamoor, near Pickering, said last night: “It is just like a game of snakes and ladders, but with people’s lives – it’s absolutely awful.
“But he has been cleared of the charges and we are hoping he can come home next week.”
The 24-year-old pilot has spent five months trying to get out of the Central African Republic after being imprisoned and charged with murder when he reported the discovery of the mutilated bodies of 13 illegal gold miners massacred on land where he worked for a safari company.
He has been under house arrest at a safari lodge after the prison where he was detained in Bangui, the country’s capital, was destroyed by rioting prisoners.
Mr Simpson was badly bruised in the violence and had all his possessions stolen.
Despite his ordeal, he hopes to return to Africa.
“I feel I belong in the African bush,” he said. “I love my job and I want to come back here and get on with it.
“But for now, I’m looking forward to some summer evenings in England with my friends.”
His father said:”I’m only going to believe he is actually free when he walks through the door. It is such a hard, hard country. David went to get his visa to leave and they took his passport off him until the paperwork is sorted out.
“The problem is you just don’t know. Every week we think he is coming home, but then something else happens.
“What is worse is he has actually said he wants to go back because he loves the country.
“I can honestly say I might shred his passport once we do get him back – we can’t stand this kind of stress.
“The concern is, is he going to be happy sitting in our conservatory and helping out with the pheasants after all this?
“You honestly wouldn’t believe it if you read it in a book, you just couldn’t make it up.”
Huge diplomatic pressure has been put on the Central African Republic in connection with the case, but the Foreign Office said yesterday they were unaware of any new developments.
Many commentators have linked the murders of the gold miners to supporters of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.