Cameron urged to help free pilot held after discovering massacre

Pilot David Simpson (left) at the scene of the massacre
Pilot David Simpson (left) at the scene of the massacre
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THE brother of a Yorkshire pilot imprisoned on suspicion of murder in Africa has called on the Prime Minister to personally intervene after returning from the squalid jail where he is being held.

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 three months ago after he stumbled upon the scene of a suspected massacre by the forces of a notorious African warlord.

The scene in the bush he discovered involved 18 bodies which had been horrifically mutilated.

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

Now, a photograph of Mr Simpson at the massacre site has been released to the Yorkshire Post by his brother Paul Simpson, who this week returned from a visit to the capital Bangui where he is being held in prison.

The family has already expressed concerns at alleged corruption within the CAR, which has been widely condemned for its appalling human rights record.

With a promised third investigation into the massacre yet to get off the ground, Mr Simpson has now urged David Cameron to step up the pressure on the country’s president.

“A phone call from the Prime Minister to the president would do a lot,” Mr Simpson said.

“The frustration is there has been no change whatsoever.

“All they are doing is repeating themselves over and over again.

“When I saw David he was just getting really frustrated that nothing is moving and he is getting really impatient now.”

Mr Simpson says his brother and his fellow workers from the game company are being kept in relative luxury in a separate wing of the overcrowded prison which they have helped to rebuild.

“When I first walked into the prison I felt so bad for David,” he said.

“We came in at lunchtime and all the prisoners were there begging for food off of us in front of the guards as we walked past.

“The downstairs is horrible but luckily he is in a different cell.

“From his window he can see people getting beaten up all the time.

“The prison is dirty, badly kept, and nobody seems to care.

“David has lost weight and is getting quite muscly, he is doing lots of exercise every day.

“But he is eating very well.”

While Mr Simpson has been held in prison, his family have received anonymous hate mail saying he deserves to die because of his work for the safari company.

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

The Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, has offered personal assurances to the family.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “The Government is taking this case extremely seriously and have 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.

“Consular staff have visited Mr Simpson regularly since his arrest and we are in frequent contact with him and his family.

“We recognise that this is a difficult and frustrating time for the family.

“Minister Bellingham has personally spoken to them to offer assurances that the FCO is committed to seeing Mr Simpson’s situation resolved. David’s family have also met with consular officials,” the Foreign Office spokesman said.