Russia says no arms found on `mystery hijacking` ship

Last Updated: Sunday, September 20, 2009 - 00:00

Moscow: The Arctic Sea ship seized by
alleged pirates a month ago does not contain any cargo that
compromises Moscow, Russian investigators said on Saturday, after
speculation it was carrying arms to Iran.

"The ship has been examined with modern equipment both
inside and outside. Apart from its cargo of timber, nothing
else was found which could compromise Russia," said Vladimir
Markin, the head of a panel of investigators, Interfax news
agency reported.
Speculation has raged that the Arctic Sea, which vanished
for several weeks, may have carried a secret cargo, including
missile systems covertly bound for Iran.

Investigators said earlier this week that they had
completed their search of the ship, which carried a stated
cargo of Finnish timber for delivery to Algeria worth 1.16
million euros (USD 1.7 million) from Finland to Algeria.

The Arctic Sea`s mysterious seizure in a busy European
shipping lane, the huge international effort to recover it and
Moscow`s detention of the crew after their return to Russia
have fuelled speculation of an illicit cargo.
Spain yesterday confirmed the vessel was in international
waters off its Canary Islands, near the port of Las Palmas.

Eight suspects -- including Russians, Estonians and
Latvians -- have been accused of hijacking the Arctic Sea, a
Maltese-flagged vessel with a 15-man Russian crew, in Swedish
waters in late July.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, September 20, 2009 - 00:00

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