Hate mail sent to family of pilot jailed in Africa

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ANIMAL rights campaigners have sent hate mail to the family of a Yorkshire pilot being held in an African prison on suspicion of murder after discovering a suspected massacre, telling him to “rot in hell”.

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.

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 despite meeting with Foreign Office staff on Monday to try and negotiate terms for his release, they do not know how long it will be.

Now it has emerged two anonymous letters have been sent to his family home, saying Mr Simpson deserves to die because of his work for the safari company.

One of the letters, posted by his brother Paul Simpson on a Facebook page dedicated to securing his release, reads: “I hope he rots in hell and then gets hacked to pieces”.

The author adds: “I just hope not too much of my tax money is spent on consular assistance.”

The letters were reportedly posted from Sheffield and Lancashire, with one of them addressed to Mrs Simpson, Pheasant farm, Gillamoor.

North Yorkshire Police yesterday confirmed the letters had been reported to them.

Mr Simpson, who is a manager and pilot for the Swedish safari company, was arrested along with his boss Erik Mararv and 10 Africans after reporting the massacre to local officials.

As revealed by the Yorkshire Post, the family say they are becoming increasingly concerned at alleged corruption within the CAR, which has been widely condemned for its appalling human rights record.

Their fears have been raised after a CAR newspaper apparently reported that a witness had seen Mr Simpson and Mr Mararv taking part in the massacre.

His father Peter Simpson has also posted on the Facebook page that they have been told he will be released under house arrest this week, although he added: “They have been saying this for a month now.”

The Lord’s Resistance Army – which recently made international headlines when an internet video on leader Joseph Kony was viewed around 90 million times – has been active in the country for a number of years after being pushed out of Uganda.

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.”