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Las Palmas refuses to accept Arctic Sea vessel

RIA Novosti

07:58 19/09/2009 LAS PALMAS, September 19 (RIA Novosti) - Spain has again refused to accept the Arctic Sea vessel in the port of Las Palmas, a port administration official said Saturday.

The process of handing over the Arctic Sea to the Maltese owners was expected to be completed on Friday, with the vessel expected to dock at Las Palmas port at 20:00 local time (23:00 Moscow time).

The Investigative Committee of the Russian Prosecutor General's Office had said the transfer of the Arctic Sea would take place in the capital of Spain's Canary Islands from September 17 through September 18, but the vessel remained anchored 25 kilometers (16 miles) offshore as Malta refused to take part in the handover of the ship.

The ship was taken into Russian Navy custody on August 16 after being tracked down in the Atlantic off Cape Verde two weeks after going missing. Eight men are in detention in Moscow on piracy and kidnapping charges.

Russian and international media have speculated that the ship could have been involved in a state-sponsored arms trafficking operation, including suggestions that Russia attempted to deliver missiles for S-300 air defense systems to Iran or Syria. The speculation was dismissed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier this month.


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