The person I'm currently most intrigued by in the Equatorial Guinea Coup scandal is 20-something computer expert James Kershaw. He is either cooperating with South African police, or has fled, depending on which current news story you read.
According to testimony, he was the mystery voice on the other end of the telephone that recruited Raymond Stanley Archer, fresh from guard duty during the Aristide coup, for the alleged Equatorial Guinea coup project.
The IOL write-up on Kershaw is even more intriguing:
A key witness in the Scorpion investigation may be James Kershaw, described as Mann's right-hand man.
Kershaw, a computer expert in his late twenties, is believed to have played a central role in recruiting mercenaries, buying arms and ammunition and collecting money from "investors".
Kershaw is believed to be in possession of "the Wonga List" - details of rich and influential people who allegedly bankrolled the coup attempt.
The Daily News has learned that Kershaw is preparing to give crucial evidence in South Africa in any future trial of Thatcher. The decision by Kershaw to do a deal with the police means the secret list is likely to be in the hands of the Scorpions.
Kershaw, who was born in South Africa but holds a British passport, has been named in court by a number of arrested mercenaries as one of the recruiters in the coup attempt.
Has he disappeared? Or did he temporarily disappear to confer with his attorney? I can't say, from this distance.
The story of Archer's recruitment is especially interesting. I wonder how Kershaw knew to contact Archer, since the man had been without a job for less than a week, and how Kershaw knew Archer's cell phone number even though Archer says he knew nothing about Kershaw prior to the contact. Kershaw must know some really interesting people.
In a mystery novel, Kershaw would turn up dead now since, potentially, so many powerful people have so much to lose through his testimony and cooperation. If he has fled, I do wonder if he's in Dallas.
UPDATE: Here's another interesting IOL piece which discusses both James Kershaw and some of Thatcher's other projects.
But it has been learned that the keeper of the secrets - accountant and computer expert James Kershaw - has become a witness for the prosecution in South Africa and the explosive list of names is said to be in possession of the police.
The list could provide key evidence in any trials against the men accused of involvement in the coup plot.
A number of the men arrested as suspected mercenaries have named Kershaw, 24, in court as one of the recruiters in the alleged plan to depose President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
He allegedly made a down payment of $90 000 in Harare, Zimbabwe, and also allegedly gave last-minute instructions, by telephone, to the team.
Kershaw decided to co-operate with the authorities after seeking legal advice.
It is believed that he met officials recently in South Africa.
According to a source close to those involved in the controversy: "James is co-operating with the South African authorities and will give evidence on behalf of the state. He is young. He got caught up in something he could not really control."
Regarding Thatcher, this new article says that Nick Du Toit testified regarding Thatcher's mining operations in Sudan. The mention of Sudan in this context rings alarm bells for me. It is a country that companies with any concern for human rights avoid.
Thatcher, who is alleged by the South African police to have financed the coup plot, has strenuously denied culpability.
Attention, however, is now focused on his other supposed business ventures in Africa.
Nick du Toit, a South African on trial in Equatorial Guinea with other men arrested on suspicion of being mercenaries, claims Thatcher wanted to buy helicopters for use in Sudan.
Giving evidence in court this week, Du Toit said: "In my business I also sold military helicopters and I had some available. Thatcher had a mining operation going in Sudan and he wanted two Mi-8 helicopters for Sudan."
Sudan. The very last thing Sudan needs is Mark Thatcher.