- Title: SPAIN: Spanish aircrew released from Chad prison arrive back in Madrid
- Date: 10th November 2007
- Summary: (W5) MADRID, SPAIN (NOVEMBER 09, 2007) (REUTERS) (NIGHT SHOTS) RELATIVES OF SPANISH AIRCREW WALKING TOWARDS TARMAC PLANE TRANSPORTING SPANISH AIRCREW RELEASED IN CHAD ON TARMAC SPANISH DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER MARIA TERESA FERNANDEZ DE LA VEGA ON TARMAC WITH RELATIVES OF AIRCREW RELATIVES AWAITING ARRIVAL OF AIRCREW PLANE ABOUT TO STOP ON TARMAC RELATIVES WAVING HANDS AS PLANE PARKS ON TARMAC AIRCREW WAVING FROM INSIDE THE PLANE SPANISH DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, MARIA TERESA FERNANDEZ DE LA VEGA LEADING GROUP OF RELATIVES WALKING TOWARDS PLANE PLANE PARKED ON TARMAC RELEASED AIRCREW DESCENDING FROM PLANE, GREETING FERNANDEZ DE LA VEGA AND HUGGING RELATIVES VARIOUS OF RELEASED AIRCREW HUGGING RELATIVES PEOPLE CLAPPING RELEASED AIRCREW HUGGING STEWARDESSES RELEASED ONE WEEK AGO IN CHAD
- Embargoed: 25th November 2007 10:40
- Location: Spain
- Country: Spain
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA7YG2PTEE4UMQOIXFRNF6CROXV
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Two Spanish pilots and an air steward released from a prison in Chad returned to Madrid on Friday (November 9). They had been detained after an attempt by a humanitarian activist group to fly 103 African children to Europe.
The Spaniards were freed from the main prison in Chad's capital N'Djamena and flew back to the Spanish capital with Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Bernardino Leon who had come out especially to collect them.
After disembarking from a Spanish air force plane on a chilly Madrid autumn night, a weary-looking Agustin Rey, pilot for Catalan air charter company Girjet, thanked the government and public for their support.
"We stayed a crew at all times, and I'm really proud of each and every one of them," said Rey, still wearing his dark pilot's uniform, as fellow crew members Daniel Gonzalez and Sergio Munoz stood by after a welcome from Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega.
"Thanks to the government's hard work, they were fighting for us at all times and we are here thank God. Many thanks to everybody," said Rey, who was arrested along with his colleagues in eastern Chad on October 25, when they were charged as accomplices of six French members of the humanitarian activist group calling itself Zoe's Ark.
Release papers have also been issued for a 74-year-old Belgian pilot but he had suffered heart problems late on Thursday (November 8) and was recovering at the French military base in Chad.
The French nationals are still being held in Chad and face trial after being charged with fraud and abduction for trying to fly 103 African children they said were Darfur orphans to families in Europe.
Chad says the Zoe's Ark group, which had contracted the Spanish air crew, did not have permission to take the children out of the country. U.N.
officials say almost all of the infants aged 1-10 came from villages on the Chad-Sudan border and had at least one living parent.
Spanish media reported the decision to release the aircrew followed testimony given by the detained leader of the Zoe's Ark group, Eric Breteau, who said they had simply been contracted to carry out a flight mission but were not involved in the group's activities in Chad.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero spoke by telephone with Chadian President Idriss Deby for 20 minutes earlier on Friday, Spanish state radio reported.
The Spanish crew is the second group of Europeans to be freed from among 17 detained in late October in eastern Chad.
Four Spanish female flight attendants and three French journalists were released by Chad on Sunday and flown home with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who had travelled to Chad to discuss the case with Deby.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2020. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None