Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Wednesday, 27 April 2005 12:52 UK

E Guinea politician accuses Spain

Severo Moto
Moto denied reports that he wanted to buy arms

Equatorial Guinea's exiled opposition leader Severo Moto, who was reported missing, has told a Croatian newspaper that he is in hiding in Zagreb.

He said he had left his home in Spain, because the Spanish secret services wanted to kill him, Spain has denied these accusations.

He said Spain wanted good relations with Equatorial Guinea, its former colony, in order to explore for oil.

Mr Moto was accused of involvement in an attempted coup last year.


He set up a self-proclaimed government in exile in Madrid two years ago and Equatorial Guinea said he would have been installed as leader, had the coup, which had links to the UK, South Africa and Zimbabwe, succeeded.

Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema also accused Spain of involvement in the coup plot - charges which were denied in Madrid.

"Spanish secret services, political and business circles see their interest in good relations between Spain and Equatorial Guinea so Madrid would obtain concessions for oil wells in my country," Mr Moto was quoted as telling the weekly Globus newspaper, which also published photographs of him in Zagreb.

"As opposition leader... I have become an obstacle to the deals with Obiang and that is why they want to eliminate me," he said.


He also denied press speculation that he was in Croatia to buy arms.

When he was reported missing last week, Spain's secretary of state for foreign affairs Bernardino Leon said he was "concerned" and that his officials were working hard to locate Mr Moto.

A court in Equatorial Guinea sentenced 19 people, including Mr Moto, to jail over the coup plot in November.

Other alleged mercenaries are in prison in Zimbabwe, while Sir Mark Thatcher, son of the former UK prime minister, has pleaded guilty to unknowingly helping to finance the plot to seize power in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.

Mr Moto's wife, Margarita Eki, was quoted by Efe news agency as saying she had feared he had been killed.

"Since he is well, safe and sound, I am very happy."

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