Family’s fears grow for detained pilot

Fears grow for pilot David Simpson, left.
Fears grow for pilot David Simpson, left.

THE family of a Ryedale pilot held in an African prison on suspicion of murder have criticised alleged corruption keeping him in jail.

David Simpson, 24, of Gillamoor, near Kirkbymoorside, is being detained in the Central African Republic.

Mr Simpson was arrested after finding 18 dead villagers in the remote south-east of the country.

Mr Simpson, who was working for a big game company, was arrested along with his boss Erik Mararv and 10 Central Africans after reporting the massacre to local officials.

He has been named as an official suspect despite the attacks bearing the hallmarks of atrocities by the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Its leader, Joseph Kony, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Mr Simpson’s brother, Paul, said the family was becoming increasingly concerned for David’s welfare and alleged corruption within the Central African Republic.

He said: “It just makes me worry how long it is going to take and how long he is going to live like this in these conditions.

The families’ fears were raised further after a national newspaper in the Central African Republic was believed to have reported claims from a witness that they saw Mr Simpson and Mr Mararv take part in the massacre.

His brother Paul previously 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.

He added: “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.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “The Government is taking this case extremely seriously and has pressed the Central African Republic authorities for assurances that due legal process will be followed.

“We have asked that the matter will be concluded as swiftly as possible.”

Mr Simpson has previously called the claims “absolutely ridiculous” and has vowed to prove his innocence.

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

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 the southern Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

Both Mr Simpson and Mr 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.

l Mr Simpson’s family have launched campaigns on Facebook and Twitter.

The Facebook page is under the title David Simpson British Pilot imprisoned in Africa, while the Twitter feeds are #FreeDavidSimo and @FreeDavidSimo.