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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 June, 2005, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
E Guinea leader pardons Armenians
Nick du Toit in August 2004 in Equatorial Guinea
Nick du Toit remains in a Malabo prison
Equatorial Guinea's president has issued an amnesty to six Armenians convicted of taking part in a coup.

The six flight crew were found guilty last year of trying to topple President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

Seven South Africans remain in a Malabo prison after being convicted for their role in the coup. Three more alleged mercenaries are in prison in Zimbabwe.

Mr Obiang, who has ruled oil-rich Equatorial Guinea for 25 years, cited "humanitarian reasons" for the pardon.

"Armenia expresses satisfaction... and expresses thanks to the president of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang for taking this humanitarian step," Armenia's foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.

In April, the human rights group Amnesty International condemned conditions at the Black Beach prison in Malabo and said inmates could starve to death there.

On 7 June, Amnesty said that the arrest, trial and detention of the group of alleged ┐mercenaries┐ was unfair and full of flagrant human rights violations.

South African Nick du Toit - the alleged leader of the mercenaries - remains in Black Beach, after being sentenced to 34 years in prison.


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