Two British pilots, freed by Algeria, returned to London today (Sunday), still tightlipped about the mid-air hijacking of their charter aircraft carrying the former Congolese Premier, Mr.
Pilots arriving and greeted by families; press conference (SOF).
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: "Captain Taylor, Captain Copleston were either of you involved in any scheme to get Mr. Tshombe back to the Congo?"
TAYLOR: "Certainly not. No, it was all a complete surprise to us."
REPORTER: "Can you tell us about the circumstances of the hijacking. We have heard lots of reports but what is the official version of what really happened that day?"
TAYLOR: "Basically we were on a low level flight from Ibiza to Palma and after about ten minutes after take-off there were two shots in the cabin followed by the order to go to Algiers. For various reasons I decided that it was quite a well prepared coup and that it was in the best interests of the passengers in fact to go to Algiers."
REPORTERS: "You said that for various reasons you didn't want to go into that at your last press conference. Why not?"
TAYLOR: "I don't want to do anything that might prejudice anybody who is still being held in Algeria. And also I want to get the aircraft back."
REPORTER: "Can you go into those reasons now at all?"
TAYLOR: "No, I'm afraid I can't until the others are released
REPORTER: "Have you seen or heard anything from President Tshombe since?"
TAYLOR:"We caught sight of him about two days ago taking exercise, that's all."
REPORTER: "How were you treated while you were in jail, Captain Copleston?"
COPLESTON: "Quite fairly I think....by the soldier."
REPORTER: "What were conditions like in jail?"
COPLESTON: "By British standards not very good but by Algerian standards I think we were quite well treated."
REPORTER: "Were you interrogated at all?"
COPLESTON: "We were questioned, yes."
REPORTER: "What was the line of the questioning Captain Copleston?"
COPLESTON: "Just exactly what happened on the flight."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Two British pilots, freed by Algeria, returned to London today (Sunday), still tightlipped about the mid-air hijacking of their charter aircraft carrying the former Congolese Premier, Mr. Moise Tshombe, 12 weeks ago.
The pilots, Captain David Taylor and Captain Trevor Copleston, shed no new light on the seizure of their executive jet which landed Mr. Tshombe into Algerian hands.
Captain Taylor, a bachelor, and Captain Copleston, were reunited with their families at London's Heathrow airport, within 24 hours of their sudden release yesterday (Saturday) in Algeria after 84 days of detention. They spent part of the time in solitary confinement in any army barracks. No charge was made against them.
Both looked pale but alert. Captain Copleston cried; "It's great to be back" as he hugged his 34-year-old wife, Yvonne, and their four young children.
Later the two men were driven to as news conference where they were asked about their experiences.