S Africa terror accused could plead guilty to blackmail

Last Updated: Friday, February 18, 2011 - 23:48

Johannesburg: A South African man accused of
threatening terror attacks against Britain and the United
States is prepared to plead guilty to blackmail but not
terrorism, prosecutors said on Friday.

Brian Patrick Roach, a 64-year-old businessman, faces
terrorism, weapons and money laundering charges after
allegedly sending messages to authorities threatening to
unleash foot-and-mouth disease in Britain and the United
States unless he was paid USD 4 million (three million euros).

"He`s prepared to plead guilty to attempted extortion,
but he denies the threats to engage in terrorist activity and
he maintains that the acts that he committed do not amount to
contravention of the Terrorism Act," prosecution spokesman
Mthunzi Mhaga said.

Roach abandoned an application for bail Friday and asked
to be allowed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of
attempted extortion. Prosecutors meanwhile added a weapons
charge to the accusations against him after police said they
had discovered an AK-47 and ammunition at his home.

A Johannesburg court adjourned the case until February
22.

Prosecutors presented messages allegedly sent by Roach to
authorities at Britain`s Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs threatening to devastate the country`s beef
industry with foot-and-mouth disease.

"We will devastate your farms and then we will then take
the problem to your co-conspirator the USA," said one letter
allegedly sent last year.

"We have the expertise and resources to do this very
effectively and will be able to devastate the industry in the
UK which will cost billions to the economy."

Prosecutors say Roach blamed Britain and the United
States for failing to protect white farmers in Zimbabwe who
lost their farms under a land reform programme promoted by
President Robert Mugabe, whom Roach allegedly called "the
tyrant from hell."

"All I can say is that this action is the `last resort`
after several years of fighting our cause," he allegedly said
in an email.

Roach was arrested Saturday near the small resort town of
Hartbeespoort in South Africa`s North West province.

Police said the arrest followed a six-month investigation
by South African and British police and the US Federal Bureau
of Investigation.

PTI



First Published: Friday, February 18, 2011 - 23:48

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