Eritrea’s military received help from the United Arab Emirates and possibly Russian, Czech and Italian companies in the past year, assistance that would violate a United Nations arms embargo on
the Horn of Africa country, the organization’s investigators said.
Thirteen Eritrean air force and navy cadets received training at U.A.E. military colleges and seven at Emirati engineering institutions between 2012 and 2015, the investigators said in a Nov. 8
report to the UN Security Council, citing testimony from five cadets who defected. The U.A.E. has been building a military base in Eritrea, whose port facilities two months ago appeared to be
“almost complete with multiple vessels docked,” the investigators said, citing satellite imagery.
U.A.E. tanks and artillery have been present between the port facilities and an airport that is also being developed, the investigators said. A U.A.E. Foreign Ministry official didn’t immediately
respond to a request for comment. Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel didn’t comment directly on the allegations.
Eritrea, a one-party state that sits on a key shipping strait linking the Red Sea and Suez Canal, has been under UN sanctions since 2009, following allegations President Isaias Afwerki’s government supports Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Somalia. UN monitors said two years ago that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting in Yemen may have been offering Eritrea monetary compensation for the use of its land, airspace and territorial waters.
In an emailed response to Bloomberg’s questions, Information Minister Gebremeskel criticized “unwarranted sanctions” based on “false allegations” it supported the al-Shabaab militant group. UN investigators said they found no conclusive evidence of support given to the fighters nor of large shipments of weapons and ammunition between the two countries.
The investigators also said Russia’s permanent mission to the UN told them the St. Petersburg Aviation Repair Co. overhauled a Mi-17 helicopter that was transported from St. Petersburg to the
Ministry of Transport and Communications in Eritrea’s capital, Asmara. Satellite imagery later appeared to show the aircraft at various military sites in the country, the UN experts said.
Defectors told them all helicopters operated by Eritrea’s government are used by the national air force, although not necessarily exclusively. The repair company didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Czech Republic-based Zlin Avion Service s.r.o. supplied parts and training to members of the Eritrean air force, which has at least four Zlin aircraft, the experts said, citing certificates bearing the
Zlin Avion logo and the signature of a flight instructor who was in Asmara in May 2016, as well as eyewitnesses.
The company didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. It told the UN investigators it hadn’t entered into any contractual agreement with Eritrea’s government and that its
Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) are holding an Eritrean national alleged to be involved in human trafficking within Kenya and abroad.
Geberemeskel Kahssay Bahta was arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on November 5 on account that and he is alleged to have arrived in Kenya from United Arab Emirates via a KQ flight operated by Kenya Airways.
They were granted five days to hold onto to him as they conduct investigations. According to an affidavit by Sergeant Esther Chao, the suspect was travelling to South Africa having bought a ticket and checked in for a flight using an Eritrean passport.
The police claim that Bahta has been on terror watch list since 2011 and they are intending to charge him officially when their ivestigations are over.
“The respondent is involved in human trafficking in Kenya and has associates who run the cartel who are also been investigated,”claims the police.
While seeking to hold on to him pending investigations, ATPU told the court that the suspect’s phones have been taken to a forensic laboratory for analysis to identify his associates. The officer said they needed more time to get a feedback from experts.
The court was further told that Bahta’s travelling documents also need to be verified at South Africa, Mozambique,Angola ,Thailand ,Zimbabwe and South Sudan embassies which may require some time to get feedback.
Consequently, resident magistrate Muthoni Nzibe allowed the application and directed that he be returned to court after 5 days.
The suspect had been deported in early 2005 but he filed a case against the attorney general and immigration department seeking orders to block his deportation. High court judge Roselyn Wendo in march 14 2007, however, dismissed his application saying that his deportation was proper.
Justice Wendo said the decision of the minister cannot be faulted and that the suspect was in breach of Kenyan laws and that the minister acted in accordance with the law.
The suspect had asked the court to stop the State from arresting and deporting him or interfering with his peaceful stay in the country.