Oskanian meets Eq. Guinea officials, discusses extradition agreement

Feb 22 2005


YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 22, ARMENPRESS: Armenian foreign ministry said
minister Vartan Oskanian arrived February 20 in Equatorial Guinea to
press for the release of six Armenian pilots jailed by a local court
for lengthy prison term on charges of involvement in a coup to topple
its president.
A spokesman for the ministry, Hamlet Gasparian, said the minister
had a series of meetings with Equatorial Guinea officials on February
21, particularly with his counterpart Bill Micha Ondoy, to discuss
prospects for development of bilateral relations in various areas,
including also interaction within international organizations, as
well as chances to start cooperation in education area.
Oskanian and his counterpart signed a memorandum on holding
consultations between the two countries’ ministries and also an
arrangement was reached on appointing ambassador to each of the
Minister Oskanian was received also by prime minister Miguel Abia
Biteo Boriko, state secretary Viktoriana Nchama Okomoy, and by chief
prosecutor Olo Obonoy to discuss drafting and approval of a set of
legal documents to back up bilateral cooperation.
A special focus was on the fate of the six Armenian pilots and the
both sides agreed to start talks on signing an extradition agreement
that would pave way for their repatriation. Oskanian also met with
jailed Armenian pilots. He is expected to Yerevan on February 23
The pilots are the crew of an Armenian transport plane that was
hired by a German airfreight company a year ago to ship cargo to
Equatorial Guinea. They were arrested in last March and sentenced to
between 14 and 24 years’ imprisonment on November 26 on charges of
involvement in a reported plot to topple Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the
president of the that country.
All Armenian pilots pleaded not guilty to the accusations
throughout their trial which was described by Amnesty International,
a leading global human rights group, as “grossly unfair.”