York & North Yorkshire

David Simpson 'murder suspect in Africa massacre'

David Simpson
Image caption Mr Simpson regularly speaks to his family via a phone from prison

A man jailed in Africa after finding a suspected massacre is now being treated as an official murder suspect, his family has said.

David Simpson, 24, from North Yorks, was working for a safari firm in the Central African Republic when he says he came across 18 mutilated bodies.

He reported it to the authorities but was later arrested and jailed.

Paul Simpson said his brother, who has been in jail for more than a month, "remained upbeat".

Mr Simpson said he regularly spoke to his brother who has access to a phone in jail.

Rebel group 'responsible'

He said: "When we heard the news it seemed like a step backwards but it is a step in the right direction because it's better than him being held there and not being told what's going on.

"He's fine, he just wants everyone to know he's OK and he's staying positive."

Image caption Paul Simpson said his brother remained "surprisingly upbeat"

Mr Simpson, of Pickering, was working for Swedish company Central African Wildlife Adventures, which takes clients game hunting, and had been looking for a water supply when he found the bodies in remote bush land. He knew some of the victims from a nearby village.

Other bodies were also found in the area.

Mr Simpson told his family it was believed the suspected massacre had been carried out by the rebel group the Lord's Resistance Army.

After contacting the authorities, the family said Mr Simpson had gone voluntarily to answer questions and had been arrested and imprisoned along with his boss Erik Mararv.

Mr Mararv's wife Emelie said they had now been shown a report which stated they were being treated as official murder suspects.

Paul Simpson said it was understood an investigation was now being carried out by the African authorities and they were awaiting the outcome of that to determine what would happen next.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We can confirm the arrest of British national David Simpson in Central African Republic.

"We are providing consular assistance to Mr Simpson. We are in contact with Central African Republic authorities and continue to monitor the situation closely."

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