Greece Seizes Ship Loaded with Explosives
23 Jun 2003, 17:03 UTC
A top Greek official says the vessel seized Sunday in his country's territorial waters was packed with explosives equivalent to the power of an atomic bomb and was headed for Sudan.
Merchant Marine Minister Georges Anomeritis says the ship's manifest indicated the cargo was destined for a firm in Khartoum. But he says initial inquiries showed that the post office box in the Sudanese capital listed as the company's address does not exist.
The minister says authorities are sure the 680 tons of explosives were loaded on the vessel in Tunisia last month. But he says no one knows the actual destination or the planned use of the explosives.
The United States has listed Sudan as among the countries that support terrorism.
Mr. Anomeritis says the crew had failed to provide the required 24-hour notice in advance of entry into Greek waters of a vessel carrying dangerous cargo. Police officials say the cargo contained detonators and ammonium nitrate-based explosives.
Greek officials arrested five Ukrainian and two Azerbaijani crew members. Prosecutors later charged them with illegal possession and transport of explosive materials.
The vessel was flying the flag of Comoros, the small Indian Ocean island nation off the coast of Africa. The ship, the Baltic Sky, is owned by Alpha Shipping, a company registered in the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific.
Greek special forces troops were acting on a tip when they boarded the vessel in the southern Ionian Sea. They later escorted it to the port of Platiyali.
Some information for this report provided by AFP, Reuters and AP.
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