Local pilot held in African prison

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A PILOT from Ryedale who has been working for a big game hunter in the Central African Republic has been imprisoned for a month without charge after he discovered the site of a suspected Lord’s Resistance Army massacre.

Investigators interrogated and arrested David Simpson, 24, of Gillamoor, near Kirkbymoorside, after he found the slaughtered remains of 18 villagers in the remote south-east of the country.

Speaking on a mobile phone smuggled into his prison cell, he told the Daily Telegraph: “It’s absolutely ridiculous, there is not a shred of evidence beyond hearsay, but still they’ve held me illegally, without charge, for more than a month.”

Now his frantic family are trying to raise awareness of Mr Simpson’s plight to put pressure on the authorities.

His brother Paul said: “We know he is safe. He is being looked after and in good condition. We have launched an appeal to put pressure on our Government to make sure they doing everything they can, which I feel they are, but it’s more to put pressure on the Central African Republic Government so if they know all the eyes of the Europe are watching then they might act a bit better in their choices.” He said the country’s laws state that a person can be held without charge for up to six days but must then be released.

“The problem is they tell him everything is going to happen tomorrow and it never happens so when he rings we just joke with him and keep his spirits up and put a smile on his face,” he added.

Mr Simpson, whose company offers wealthy clients the opportunity to go big game hunting, had been clearing a road through dense bush when colleagues reported seeing dead bodies near a local gold mine. The bodies, all male, had been arranged as if they had been systematically killed.

The former Ryedale School and Lady Lumley’s pupil knew the men as they had worked for his company, the major employer in the area, at one time or another. The rebel army, headed by Joseph Kony, continues to terrorise civilian populations in the remote jungles of southern CAR, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

Both Mr Simpson and his boss, Erik Mararv, went voluntarily to the capital to answer questions and were immediately arrested. Neither has been charged but both have still been imprisoned since April 2.

A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed a British citizen had been arrested and said they were providing consular assistance.

l Mr Simpson’s family campaign has seen them launch a Facebook page under the title David Simpson British Pilot Imprisoned in Africa as well as Twitter feeds via #FreeDavidSimo and @Free DavidSimo.