Tuesday, December 06, 2005

BY PAUL JAMES 01 September 2005

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11:00 - 01 September 2005

A penniless German national, who spent eight years behind bars to become the longest serving prisoner in a UK jail without trial, has returned to his adopted home of Torquay to tell his remarkable story of large scale international fraud, assassination attempts, torture and kidnapping.Manfred Zachel, 69, has come back to the Bay to live out the rest of his life, which has had more intrigue and adventure than the combined plots of every James Bond film.

The hard-up financial whizz-kid, whose worldwide assets worth nearly £30 million have been frozen by order of the South African authorities, has just 26p to his name.

He is now eking out a precarious existence at a Torquay seafront hotel - relying on the kindness and generosity of friends - while he desperately tries to sort out the tangled web of his complex life.

His main ambition is to expose the international money fraudsters who he believes were responsible for his record incarceration in Brixton Prison.

The weary businessman, whose inaccessible fortune includes 27 properties around the world, believes he may still be a live target for assassins anxious to silence him before he reveals the unpleasant truths about the corruption he says he uncovered at the highest levels in South Africa.

His reputation-wrecking information ropes in money laundering on a massive scale and the production of counterfeit currency for world money markets in four secret locations within the country.

And he claims to have details of those behind 223 billion missing from South African government funds.

"What I will tell I can prove,"

said the embittered "money paper trader" whose childhood sex abuse at the hands of German soldiers in the last World War was every bit as bizarre and horrific as his adult life. He later "dealt with" the offenders as well as a group of SS officers who killed his mother in 1939.

His prison nightmare started in 1995 during the fateful business trip to South Africa where he gained his unexpected but life-threatening glimpse of worldwide corruption which soon put him in mortal danger.

"I should have left South Africa quickly. It was wrong to stay. I know that now," he said.Instead he remained only to be arrested at gunpoint on suspicion of fraud and thrown in jail where he was twice poisoned.He was later transferred to a recovery clinic from where he was kidnapped.
He was kept by his unknown captors for 17 days, during which time they tortured him while asking him about his banking secrets.He was finally dumped by the gang before being helped by friends to a safe house in Botswana, eventually finding his way back to Torquay.His beatings and torture left him with scars and disabilities which remain with him to this day.
For the moment the damaging facts, names and figures he collected during his eye-opening excursion have been locked away on computer files with a view to future devastating publication.

"I can't rule out the possibility that someone might yet assassinate me. They are still out to get me.
I know I'm not 100 per cent safe in Torquay. But it's where I want to be," said Manfred who fell in love with the resort on his first visit in 1990 after his truck-driving son had recommended the resort.

He was in Torquay when police arrested him on an extradition warrant issued by the South Africans in 1997.
He ended up in Brixton where he spent what energies he had left fighting his removal from the UK.His battle ended in failure this February when, he claims, he was drugged against his will and flown out to South Africa where he was obliged to "sign a deal" admitting trumped-up allegations of mortgage fraud.

"It was the only way I could get out of there," said Manfred who revealed he was caught up in the infamous international banking fraud involving German nationals in Torquay in the late 80s when he lost £400,000 to tricksters.
His jail ordeal was taken up by the Guardian newspaper and the action group Fair Trials Abroad.It was during the campaign for his release that he believes agents tried to kill him by setting fire to his specially-built cell at Brixton.
He was getting ready for bed on August 23, 2002, when flames suddenly shot through one of two fans in his cell."My life was saved by my fellow inmate Chris Hubbard who raised the alarm.
I'm pretty sure the fire was a deliberate act," he said.

He believes by breaking his cover now he is putting himself at risk."There are people who will have reason to kill me. But all I want to do is tell my story so these people in South Africa are brought to justice," he said.

His immediate ambition is to secure permanent accommodation from the authorities in Torquay and to receive treatment for the ills suffered at the hands of his torturers. He suffered crippling back injuries, although he can now get about with a stick after being previously confined to a wheelchair.
He has also arranged to discuss his plight with Bay MP Adrian Sanders this afternoon.Mr Sanders said:
"Mr Zachel does appear to have had a remarkable life from what he has said. I'm looking forward to meeting him and seeing if there is anything I can do to help him with his current position."
One friend helping Manfred to find his feet again said: "He was once a very rich man who is now very poor and not too well".
He's had a dreadful life which is not getting any better. He deserves a slice of good fortune at the very least."

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** They are wise because they correct their mistakes as soon as they recognize them.


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