Turkey seizes rifles on grounded Iranian plane
DİYARBAKIR – Daily News with wires | 3/23/2011 12:00:00 AM |
The Turkish authorities have seized rifles on a Syria-bound Iranian plane, grounded since the weekend, and questioned its seven-man crew, police and judicial sources said.
Turkish authorities have seized rifles on a Syria-bound Iranian plane, grounded since the weekend, and questioned its seven-man crew, police and judicial sources said Tuesday, Agence France-Presse reported.
The cargo plane, a civilian Ilyushin, was ordered to land in Diyarbakır on Saturday night on suspicion that it had military or illicit cargo on board. The Foreign Ministry's spokesperson said experts found goods prohibited within the scope of United Nations sanctions imposed on Iran on the plane, which was asked to land at Diyarbakır Airport as it was flying over Turkish airspace on Saturday.
"Experts have seized the mentioned goods," the spokesperson said, Turkey’s state Anatolia News Agency reported.
A senior Turkish diplomat confirmed to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review that the material seized by inspectors at the airport was military cargo.
“We have the right to order planes flying through our air corridor to land under U.N. Security Council resolutions” said the diplomat.
Iranian Embassy officials, however, told the Daily News that they were not formally informed by Turkish authorities about the seizure. “The matter is closed for us now,” an embassy spokesman said.
The plane had declared a cargo of spare car parts, but the inspection resulted also in the discovery of a box containing automatic rifles, a police source told AFP, without providing further details on the guns.
The crew was taken to a police station for questioning and argued that the weapons were on board as part of routine security measures, declining to give additional information, the source said.
An "administrative" probe has been launched to see whether the presence of weapons on board complied with international rules, a judicial official said, adding that no criminal charges were to be pressed against the crew.
A cargo ship, belonging to Iranian YAS aviation, was given permission to fly over Turkish airspace as it was heading from Iran to Syria on condition that it land at Diyarbakır Airport for a usual routine control, according to Anatolia news agency.
Doğan news agency, or DHA, had reported earlier that the crew was detained following the discovery of weapons and ammunition on board. Police officers unloaded the aircraft's entire cargo, an AFP reporter on the scene said Monday night.
The Turkish authorities forced another Syrian-bound Iranian plane to land in Diyarbakir on March 16. After a search lasting several hours, the plane was found to be carrying 150 tons of food but "no material contrary to international standards," security sources said.