The two Libyan pilots who defected to Malta on February 21, just days after the revolution started, will be rejoining the new Libyan air force in their country.The pilots are returning home to their families this morning, after spending the past seven months in Malta.
They said they took the decision not to execute their order to bombard a small village and headed towards Malta, where they eventually asked for and were given assistance.
They said this morning they never regretted choosing Malta because of the help they received over here.
“At that point we gave more consideration for our country than for our families or anything else. We left our fate in God and our prayers were answered and the tyrant was removed from power.”
The two pilots are the sole instructors of the Libyan air force.
They thanked the government and the Maltese for the assistance they received in Malta, especially when the Maltese government refused access to a plane that had come to take them and their Mirages back.
“This had been a courageous decision. In taking this decision, the Maltese government prevented the use of those planes against the Libyan people.”
The pilots said they looked forward to even stronger relations between the two countries over time.
The Mirages will be returned to Libya once the arms embargo is lifted and the country’s new government requests its assets backs.
Malta has urged for the unfreezing of Libyan assets and it has invited the two pilots to return to Malta with their families whenever they wanted.
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi emphasised the important role the pilots played in the Libyan revolution since they defected only days after the protests started.
Their defection, he said, had sent a very important signal to Libyans and the international community.
To get to Malta, the pilots flew below radar level at some 70 to 80 metres altitude.
Malta, Dr Gonzi said, did not hesitate even for a second to give them protection.
Brigardier Martin Xuereb described today as a red letter day for army. The pilots who were hosted at the Officers’ Mess, had become friends, he said.
And although they had been away from their families for seven months, they tried to make contact with their loved ones every other day
In: Regional News
Tags: Malta, Libya, pilots, Mirage, radar, laurence gonzi, ministry, ambassador, libyan revolution, return, family, libyan airforce, maltese government
Location: Malta (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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