Turkish captain of ship intercepted by Greek coastguard denies carrying 20,000 Kalashnikovs
BODRUM - Doğan News Agency
Greek coastguards guard the Sierra Leone-flagged vessel ?Nour M? at the port of the eastern Aegean Sea island of Rhodes on Nov. 8. AP photoThe captain of a ship halted by the Greek coastguards and allegedly carrying 20,000 Kalashnikovs has categorically denied claims of having weapons on board while maintaining that the cargo was destined to the Libyan Defense Ministry.
“There are no explosives or weapons on board. I and my crew are going crazy. I learned the claims that the ship was carrying 20,000 Kalashnikovs and explosives from the press. I have sailed for 40 years, and this is the same time that such a thing has happened to me,” the Turkish captain of the Nour M, Hüseyin Yılmaz, told Doğan news agency today.
“The claims are groundless. They have made my life miserable with the wrong information,” he said.
The Sierra Leone-flagged ship was intercepted by Greek coastguards on Nov. 8 near the island of Symi in the southeastern Aegean Sea and subsequently taken to the island of Rhodes for further inspection. The state-run Athens News Agency (ANA) reported that the vessel had set sail from Ukraine and was destined for the Turkish port of İskenderun, noting that the ports of Tartus in Syria and Tripoli in Libya had also been declared as destination ports.
“The ship had on board containers that we loaded in Ukraine to be transported to the Tripoli port and then delivered to the Libyan Defense Ministry,” Yılmaz said, adding that a small breakdown had occurred when the Greek coastguards intercepted the ship. “While we were thinking that they had come to help us, they towed the ship to Rhodes. … They have been searching it for three days, inspecting the documents,” Yılmaz said, emphasizing that the content of the shipment had been declared to the Turkish authorities as the vessel had crossed through Turkish waters.
“I gave the Greek police the phone numbers of the company and the person who delivered the shipment as the Libyan ministry representative to whom I will deliver it. I told them to arrest me if they were any weapons. But the police did not have the courage to look into the containers because it was a transit shipment. I and my two Turkish crew members have been interrogated nine times,” Yılmaz said.
The Nour M is also believed to have been used in the past for drug trafficking, ANA said.