Fears grow for Yorkshire pilot held in African prison over massacre

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THE family of a Yorkshire pilot held in an African prison on suspicion of murder after discovering a suspected massacre by the forces of a notorious warlord, have hit out at alleged corruption which is keeping him behind bars.

David Simpson, 24, who left his family farm in Gillamoor, near Pickering, North Yorkshire, to work for a big game company in the Central African Republic (CAR), was arrested nearly two months ago after he stumbled upon the gruesome scene in the bush involving 18 bodies which had been horrifically mutilated.

Mr Simpson, who works as a manager and pilot for the Swedish safari 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 murder suspect despite the attacks bearing the hallmarks of the atrocities committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) whose leader, Joseph Kony, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

His family had initially hoped he would be freed within weeks, but ahead of a meeting with Foreign Office staff on Monday to desperately try and negotiate terms for his release, his brother Paul Simpson told the Yorkshire Post they now do not know how long it will be.

Paul Simpson, 22, said he is becoming increasingly concerned at alleged corruption within the CAR, which has been widely condemned for its appalling human rights record.

“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 for,” he said.

The families’ fears have been raised this week, after a national newspaper in the CAR is believed to have reported that a witness claims to have seen Mr Simpson and Mr Mararv taking place in the massacre.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “The Government is taking this case extremely seriously and has pressed the CAR authorities for assurances that due legal process will be followed. We have asked that the matter will be concluded as swiftly as possible.”