Arms-laden aircraft: UAE says pilot made technical error

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 8, 2009 - 23:25

New Delhi/Kolkata: A China-bound cargo plane
of UAE`s Air Force detained in Kolkata after arms and
ammunition were found on board will be released soon after
India was told that its pilot committed a "technical error"
over declaring the consignment for which regret was expressed.

Customs authorities in Kolkata meanwhile were awaiting a
green signal from the External Affairs ministry before the
C-130 Hercules aircraft that remained grounded for the third
day today can be cleared to resume its flight which originated
from Abu Dhabi.

An External Affairs Ministry statement said the UAE
authorities both in New Delhi and Abu Dhabi have since
formally regretted the omission in clearly indicating items
carried by the aircraft and have described it as a "technical
error." They have also provided details about the cargo which
consists of Combat Missile, the statement said.

The statement further said the matter will be resolved in
the spirit of the close and friendly ties between India and
the UAE and "we will facilitate early release of the
aircraft."

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna told reporters in
New Delhi, "The UAE government authorities have approached us
to say that it was the technical mistake which the pilot has
committed."

Krishna further said that in view of the "friendly
relations" India had with the UAE he was in consultation with
other departments of the government and take a call.

In Kolkata, the interrogation of the pilot and nine crew
members of the aircraft were completed and the Customs had
sent detailed reports to the External Affairs Ministry last
night, airport officials said. The 10 crew members have been
shifted to another hotel for "security reasons". The plane was
on a scheduled transit halt in Kolkata.

"The decision to allow the plane to take off from here
will be taken by the Ministry of External Affairs. It is not
certain when it would be permitted to take off," airport
officials said. "The matter is now at the
government-to-government level," Customs sources said in
Kolkata.

The External Affairs Ministry statement said the Captain
of the flight Major Ibrahim Alshamsel filed a declaration to
the Customs stating that the flight was carrying
arms/ammunition/explosives.

However, since at the time of initial application, no
mention of the arms and ammunition was made, the authorities
at Kolkata airport detained the aircraft for further
investigation, it said.

Accordingly, after the concurrence of the
pilot-in-command of the aircraft, the Customs officials
entered the plane to inquire about the nature of cargo.

The plane, which was on its way to Hanyang in China
from Abu Dhabi, landed at the NSC Bose International airport
for refuelling at 5.30 pm on Sunday. Its crew-members had not
informed in their routine declaration to the airport
authorities and customs that the plane was carrying arms and
ammunition.

Bureau Report



First Published: Tuesday, September 8, 2009 - 23:25

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