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Campaign to release pilot grows

A campaign is growing to secure the release of a British pilot who was thrown into an African prison after he discovered the victims of an apparent massacre.

David Simpson, 24, was arrested six weeks ago in the Central African Republic after he stumbled upon a gruesome scene in the bush involving a number of bodies and reported it to local officials.

His family says Mr Simpson, who works as a manager and pilot for a Swedish safari company, is now being treated as an official murder suspect following his arrest. He is being held along with his boss, Swede Erik Mararv, and 10 Central Africans.

Mr Simpson told the Daily Mail: "It's like a nightmare."

Speaking to the newspaper by mobile phone, he said: "I just want this to be over."

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 may be involved.

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

Mr Simpson's family has set up a Facebook group to campaign for his release, which now has more than 3,000 members. His brother Paul posted: "David has NOT been charged with murder they have only finally confirmed what we all knew that he is been held on suspicion of murder."

He added: "David's plane ticket is still booked for the 21st of May and he doesn't think he will need to change that. He wants u all to know that he is safe, comfortable and confident that this will be resolved soon. and thanks everyone for their words of support."

Fair Trials International's chief executive Jago Russell said: "The Central African Republic has been widely condemned for its appalling human rights record including harsh and life-threatening conditions in its detention centres. Mr Simpson has already spent a month in prison there, far from family and friends at home and we hope that this ordeal and uncertainty is brought to an end as soon possible."

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