Turkey to inspect vessel for suspected armmunition
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish security officials evacuate journalists from the vessel. AA photoA German-owned ship suspected of carrying Iranian arms and ammunition bound for Syria was set to dock in southern Turkey’s Iskenderun port, to be inspected by Turkish officials, when the Daily News went to press yesterday.
“The vessel will unload cargo at Iskenderun port for a Turkish company. The ship notified Turkish customs that it was carrying “non-lethal” cargo for the Turkish company, but a team will inspect all the ship’s cargo,” a Turkish diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News, adding that the ship would then sail on to Syria.
The Bermuda-flagged vessel, the Atlantic Cruiser, anchored off shore of Iskenderun early Wednesday and asked the local customs office for permission to unload its cargo, the diplomat said.
The ship, belonging to the German-owned Bockstiegel shipping company, set sail on Friday and switched off its tracking system near Syria, Cyprus and Turkey on April 16.
Bockstiegel has ordered the ship not to continue its journey until all facts are established.
When news weekly Der Spiegel reported at the weekend that the Atlantic Cruiser had been stopped on the high seas with Iranian weapons on board, Bockstiegel said Monday: “According to the description of the goods in our documents as well as their appearance, the firm has no indication that they are weapons, ammunition or heavy military equipment, as stated in the press.”
“The firm is in constant contact with the company that chartered the ship, which for its part stresses that the shipment for Syria did not contain weapons or military equipment, but exclusively legal goods for civilian use,” the statement said.
Bockstiegel said goods had been loaded on the ship in Mumbai, India and it was destined for Syria, Turkey and Montenegro. A portion of the goods were off-loaded in Djibouti, but no new goods were taken on board there.