Exiled African politician held for arms trafficking

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Arrest came after it was clear that weapons seized in March were destined for the politician’s native Equatorial Guinea.

16 April 2008

MADRID - Severo Moto, the exiled Equatorial Guinean opposition leader, was detained Tuesday near Madrid by police for allegedly trafficking arms to the West African country, which was a former Spanish colony until 1968.

The arrest was carried out on the orders of a judge after it became clear that weapons uncovered on 6 March at the Valencian port of Sagunto were destined for Equatorial Guinea.

"We do not have all the information, but if it were the case it would not surprise me," said Miguel Oyono, a spokesman for the Equatorial Guinean presidency. "All illegal operations of this kind have been carried out from Spain and we have insisted that the Spanish government must not give shelter to persons are incompatible with any type of country under the rule of law."

Moto won a major case in 2006, when a Madrid court unsuccessfully attempted to revoke his asylum status on the grounds that he had been using Spain as a base to destabilise Teodoro Obiang's dictatorial regime.

The Socialist Spanish government argued at the time that Moto's presence in the country was hindering its foreign policy. Among a number of coup plots, Moto was linked to one in 2005 allegedly spearheaded by Mark Thatcher, the son of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

[El Pais / Expatica]

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