10:15am Monday 16th July 2012
By Mike Laycock
A GOVERNMENT Minister has intervened on behalf of a North Yorkshire pilot who has been held in an African jail for almost four months since he stumbled across massacre victims.
Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham stepped in to increase pressure on the Central African Republic to free David Simpson, 24, of Gillamoor, near Kirkbymoorside.
Mr Simpson was working for a luxury hunting company when he found 13 mutilated bodies. He reported the find but was then accused of the murders.
Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army are widely believed to be behind the murders, near a remote goldmine.
There have been three months of careful diplomatic efforts to free him but to no avail, and now Mr Bellingham has met Antoine Gambi, the country’s foreign minister, at the African Union summit in Ethiopia to discuss the case.
While the Foreign Office declined to give details of the outcome, it is understood that Mr Gambi was synpathetic to Mr Simpson’s case and agreed to hold talks with the country’s justice minister and police commissioner.
Mr Simpson, speaking from his cell, said he had been bouyed by the moves, adding: “After four months, I’m ready to get out of prison.” He said conditions had improved greatly since his first two months behind bars, when he had to share a small cell with 37 others
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