In Equatorial Guinea Coup Trial, Armenian Accused Give Evidence

Agence France Presse
Aug 26 2004

In Equatorial Guinea Coup Trial, Armenian Accused Give Evidence

MALABO, Aug 26 (AFP) – The trial of 18 men charged with plotting to
oust Equatorial Guinean President Teodoro Obiang Nguema went into a
fourth day Thursday, with an Armenian pilot accused of being a hired
gun for the coup bid giving evidence.

Samuel Darbinyan, 41, told the court in Malabo that he did not know
why he had been held in prison since March along with five other
Armenian crew members and eight South Africans.

A German suspect died in detention, officially of cerebral malaria,
but with rights groups saying he was tortured to death.

The 14 foreign suspects are on trial alongside four Equato-Guineans,
all accused of complicity in a plot to topple Obiang, who has been in
power in the tiny, oil-rich central African country since 1979.

Obiang announced their arrests on March 9, saying: “A group of
mercenaries entered the country and was studying plans to carry out a
coup d`etat.”

Without going into details, Obiang said interrogation of the suspects
revealed they were financed by multinational companies and “countries
that do not like us.”

The arrests came days before some 70 men were detained when their
plane stopped off in Zimbabwe, allegedly en route to Equatorial
Guinea for the coup.

The Equato-Guinean attorney general has called for the death penalty
for the alleged ringleader of the group on trial here, South African
Nick du Toit.

Du Toit is so far the only one of the 18 defendants on trial in
Equatorial Guinea to admit any involvement in a coup plot.