Roach sentenced to five years

2011-06-23 13:11

Terrorism accused Brian Roach was sentenced to an effective five years in prison by the Alexandra Magistrates Court in Johannesburg today.

He had demanded $4 million (about R27 million) in Kruger Rands, which he claimed were “untraceable”, not to release foot-and-mouth disease in the UK.

He was accused of making similar threats against the US.

According to court papers, Roach made threats via email to secure compensation for the losses incurred by the farming community of Zimbabwe.

This, after the US and UK brokered a settlement with Zimbabwe, coupled with their alleged failure to act against “the tyrant of hell” Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

An extract from an email allegedly sent by Roach and attached to the charge sheet read: “We are not habitual criminals, but have been victim of a situation which was entirely out of our control and attributed to corrupt and incompetent politicians”.

Another email read: “All I can say is that this action is the last resort after several years of fighting our cause”.

Under a plea and sentence agreement, Roach (64) was sentenced to 12 years (seven suspended) for attempted extortion.

An additional five-year sentence was imposed for money laundering, to run concurrently with three years for the illegal possession of ammunition.

Roach was also declared unfit to possess a firearm.

The ammunition and a Bantam bakkie implicated in the charges were declared forfeit to the State.

Prosecutor Chris MacAdam confirmed the plea, which did not include a terrorism charge.

Roach was not charged with the illegal possession of a firearm, as a ballistics expert said the AK-47 parts found in Roach’s house did not satisfy the legal definition of a firearm, said National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga.

In a police search of Roach’s house, they found 39mm and blank 39mm cartridges for which he did not hold a permit or licence.

Magistrate Renier Boshoff told Roach he was fortunate to have received a sentence of only five years.

“Your age definitely played a role. In many ways you can count yourself fortunate,” he said.

The terrorism charge against Roach was dropped because political motive could not be established, Mhaga told journalists outside the court.

Roach had no business links to Zimbabwe and had not farmed there, as was alleged in threatening emails to the United Kingdom and United States

Mhaga said that even though the terrorism charge was dropped the other charges had to be taken seriously.

However, given the fact that Roach was an “old man and he did not succeed in what he wanted to do, we need to be realistic”, he said.

The NPA hoped the sentence would deter other would-be offenders.

In February, Roach abandoned an application for bail and indicated that he intended to challenge some of the charges against him and whether they amounted to terrorism.

Roach was arrested in Hartbeespoort on February 12 after a six-month investigation by South African, UK and US authorities.

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