By Emil Danielyan
The six Armenian pilots arrested in Equatorial Guinea earlier this month deny any involvement in an alleged plot to overthrow the president of the west African country, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday, citing a senior United Nations official.
A Foreign Ministry statement said Armenia’s permanent representative to the UN, Armen Martirosian met on Tuesday with Tiliameni Kalomoh, a top aide to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan who visited Equatorial Guinea last week.
“During the meeting Mr. Kalomoh informed the Armenian side about his March 25 meeting with A. Karapetian, the commander of the Armenian crew detained in the capital Malabo, noting that the Armenian pilot denies any involvement of his crew in the attempted coup d’etat,” the statement said. The Guinean authorities assured the UN envoy that they will not mistreat the suspects, it added.
The Armenian nationals are among 15 detained foreigners accused by the leadership of the former Spanish colony of hatching a conspiracy against President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. Nguema’s regime claims that they were an advance party of a larger group of “mercenaries” arrested in Zimbabwe earlier in March.
Official Yerevan has already challenged the credibility of the charges brought against the Armenians, saying that they are civilian pilots who worked in the region on a private contract.
The Foreign Ministry said it has asked the Guinean authorities to allow a team of Armenian diplomats to visit the country and is awaiting their reply. Armenia has no diplomatic missions in sub-Saharan Africa.