Last week the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia confirmed that six citizens of Armenia are among 20 foreigners arrested in Equatorial Guinea and accused of conspiring to overthrow the government of that country.
Ashot Karapetyan, captain of the AN-12 crew,
second pilot Samvel Darbinyan, aeronautical engineer
Ashot Simonyan, navigator Samvel Matchkalyan,
flight engineer Razmik Khachatryan and technician-engineer
Suren Muradyan, have been in custody since March
According to the Central Administrative Board
of the Civil Aviation of Armenia, the crew works
for Tiga Air and were running chartered trade
flights inside Central Africa.
But authorities in Equatorial Guinea insist that the flight crew were part of a planned coup to overthrow President Teodoro Nguema.
As Armenia has no representation
in that country, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of Armenia has called upon its allies in Africa
to look to monitor the situation and assure that
the Armenians are properly treated.
Meanwhile the crew's families in Yerevan have little information and considerable anxiety concerning their loved ones' whereabouts and condition.
I have all my phone conversations with my husband registered, says Nara Karapetyan, the captain's wife. The last time I talked to him on March 5, it was 3 p.m. He told me everything was normal and on March 9 scheduled flights would start again.
The couple agreed to speak again on March 8, but when Nara called, her husband did not answer, renewing her anxiety.
When I was talking with my husband by phone
(March 5), he told me they had some problems.
I didn't know who he was talking about, customers
or local authorities. As phone conversations with
foreign countries are expensive we didn't talk
much, says the wife of Karapetyan, Nara Hayrapetyan.
For about 15 days the wives couldn't get any information about their husbands and didn't know even if they were alive.
All they were hearing was news reports that their husbands were involved in an international incident and were part of an attempted coup.
We want to know one thing, are they alive and
are they provided with medical assistance? We
want them to return alive, it is important, says
Khachatryan's wife, Aghavni.
On Monday of this week, the International Red
Cross told families that there is no threat to
the crews' lives and that they are still in Malabo
. Next Tuesday, representatives from the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs are scheduled to accompany
Red Cross officials on a flight to Malabo to further
investigate the matter.
They are among the best pilots of all times
in Armenia, says a friend, helicopter captain
Vardges Mnatsakanyan. They are professional pilots
and honest people. They are people, who during
the war were keeping Karabakh on their wings.
Everybody knows them including authorities.