British pilot transferred to house arrest

A British pilot jailed in Africa after he discovered the victims of an apparent massacre has described his joy at being transferred to house arrest.

David Simpson was arrested four months ago in the Central African Republic after he stumbled upon a gruesome scene in the bush involving a number of bodies, and informed local officials.

The 24-year-old, who works as a manager and pilot for a Swedish safari company, was moved from Ngaragba Central Prison in the capital, Bangui, on Thursday, after it was stormed by rioters and destroyed.

In a message on a Facebook group, set up to campaign for his release, he wrote: “I am still officially a prisoner but there is no prison to be locked up in. So for now I am a free man!”

In a later message, written on Friday, he added: “I am still officially a prisoner but there is no prison left to lock me up in after yesterday’s riot. So I am a prisoner without a prison and have no idea what will happen next, so for now I am just enjoying freedom.”

Mr Simpson said the rioters looted the prison and attacked him, stealing his shoes. All the other 700 inmates escaped, but he was detained by a dozen armed soldiers for four hours, after which time he was released.

It is understood he is still being held under house arrest, but is optimistic that the case against him will be dropped in the coming weeks.

Mr Simpson, whose family runs a pheasant farm in Gillamoor, North Yorkshire, found the bodies in March. They were tied together and mutilated.

He said he was astonished when the authorities thought he might have been involved.

Many commentators have linked the killings to supporters of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are continuing to offer consular assistance for Mr Simpson.”

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