A RYEDALE pilot suspected of killing African villagers has been told he could be freed from prison if he pays officials £800,000.
David Simpson, 24, from Gillamoor, near Kirkbymoorside, is currently being detained in the Central African Republic.
Mr Simpson, a pilot for a Swedish big game company, was arrested nearly two months ago after reporting the 18 dead villagers to officials in the remote south-east of the country.
Mr Simpson was detained alongside his Swedish boss, Erik Mararv and 11 Central Africans after finding the bodies when searching for a water supply.
They all deny the charges.
However, it has now been reported the father of one of the dead men has now claimed Mr Simpson employed a ‘magic man’ to place a curse on the victims’ food which drained the men’s strength.
It has also been alleged Mr Simpson was seen standing over the bodies brandishing a blood-soaked machete.
It is widely believed the killings were carried out by the rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by the notorious Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
It has been alleged the authorities are forcing him to pay money to fund the murder investigation and that if Mr Simpson refuses to pay, he has been told they will all stay in prison longer.
Mr Simpson’s brother, Paul, previously said the family had launched an appeal to return David to the UK and was due to meet with Foreign and Commonwealth Office bosses.
He said: “We know David is safe, he is being looked after and in a good condition.
“We have launched an appeal to put pressure on our government to make sure they are doing everything they can.
“However, it is more to put pressure on the Central African Government so if they know all the eyes of Europe are watching them, then they might act a bit better in their choices.”
Mr Simpson, a former Ryedale School and Lady Lumley’s pupil, had been helping to clear a road through dense bush when colleagues reported seeing the dead bodies near a gold mine.
Mr Simpson knew the men as they had worked for his company, the major employer in the area, at one time or another.
Both Mr Simpson and Mr Mararv went voluntarily to the police to answer questions and were immediately arrested.
Neither have been charged but have been imprisoned since April 2.
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman confirmed it was providing consular assistance, and added officials would meet Mr Simpson’s father and brother.
l Mr Simpson’s family have launched campaigns on Facebook and Twitter to help raise awareness of the situation.
The Facebook page is uder the title, David Simpson British Pilot imprisoned in Africa, with Twitter feeds at #FreeDavidSimo and @FreeDavidSimo