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German ship 'carrying guns for Assad' stopped

The Local · 16 Apr 2012, 17:49

Published: 16 Apr 2012 16:33 GMT+02:00
Updated: 16 Apr 2012 17:49 GMT+02:00

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The German-owned ship had been chartered by a Ukrainian company and was sailing from Antigua when it dropped off the radar several times over the weekend. It currently has the name "Atlantic Cruiser" but has previously sailed under the name "BBC Italy".

Defectors from Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s regime tipped-off the company which owns the boat - Emden-based Bockstiegel – that a shipment of weapons was due from the north eastern African country of Djibouti.

Authorities succeeded in tracking down the 6,200-tonne ship and are holding it in an unnamed Mediterranean port in order to search it for weapons, the Berliner Zeitung newspaper reported on Monday.

The EU has imposed a weapons embargo on Syria and Germany is now "using all possible means to ensure that the arms embargo with Syria is not violated," a spokeswoman for the Economy Ministry said on Monday.

The freighter was dropping in and out of shipping radars over the weekend. At one point, it seemed to be heading to the Turkish port of Iskenderun before disappearing. Later, it was found again between Turkey and Syria. A report in Der Spiegel magazine suggested weapons on board had come from Iran.

But Bockstiegel said: "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," it added.

The containers currently on the Atlantic Cruiser were loaded in the Indian port of Mumbai, Bockstiegel said. According to the shipping firm's documents, the equipment bound for Syria consisted of parts for a thermal power station.

Nevertheless, the firm acknowledged that "the crew only has access to the container stacked at the top". This was being inspected and appeared to consist of wires and cables, the statement said.

The firm has ordered the ship not to continue its journey until the facts are established and has agreed with the German government that the vessel would not dock in Syria until the cargo could be checked at a safe third-country port.

Holding the ship may prove problematic, as it is not thought to be "involved in piracy, the slave trade or illegal radio broadcasting and therefore by law cannot be stopped and searched,” international law expert Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg told the Berliner Zeitung.

Story continues below…

Just because a German company owns the boat, does not mean that the country has the right to go aboard and search it, von Heinegg said. He added that as also 90 percent of Germany’s exports and imports are transported by ship, stop and searching could be damaging to trade relations.

DAPD/AFP/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:31 April 16, 2012 by smart2012
I would like to see the contracts related to those guns. Who sold them to whom... then I ´would assess the comment from Herr von Heinegg
18:21 April 16, 2012 by Major B
May the Assad regime die a slow painful and gruesome death, in the manner it has treated its ciizens for decades.

Having said that, look at the current mess in Libya, where we all hailed the fall of the Quaddiffi regime. Better be careful what you ask for.

A better destination would be to a Kenyan port, for delivery to the South Sudan government. And they've got the oil to pay for it -- ah, in 6 years when new pipelines can be built
18:59 April 16, 2012 by derExDeutsche
'May the Assad regime die a slow painful and gruesome death, in the manner it has treated its ciizens for decades.'

but Iran gets a pass?? ah, another Grass supporter.

'Having said that, look at the current mess in Libya, where we all hailed the fall of the Quaddiffi regime.'

Speak for yourself. and what about Egypt?
20:31 April 16, 2012 by Tedward
So... Let's get this straight... A German ship called "BBC Italy" chartered by a Ukrainian company sailing from Antigua carrying a shipment of Iranian weapons from Djibouti which were loaded in Mumbai has disappeared near Turkey and is now headed for Syria... Must be the United Nations!!!
20:58 April 16, 2012 by Celeon
@ Tedward

Let me add to your confusion that the Atlantic Cruiser was built in a polish shipyard. :-D
21:02 April 16, 2012 by Bigfoot76
"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."

So you mean they did not list on the papers "Carrying illegal arms shipment to Syria"

Surely the containers have a description on them. "Contains boom boom" or "Danger! Pain inside".
23:17 April 16, 2012 by wood artist

As I recall, the "official manifest" of the Lusitania didn't include any armaments either. Of course we now know otherwise. And, for the record, that voyage, and the business transaction for that material, was concluded between two "trustworthy, upstanding countries" that would never stoop so low...the United States and the United Kingdom. How could we possibly suspect that this cast of characters would do such a thing?

/end of sarcasm

10:14 April 17, 2012 by raandy
WA, I do not think it was ever proven that Pres Wilson, the so called peace maker ever knew there were munitions abord the Lusitania,

however, years later it was revealed that British Intelligence ,run by the famous Winston Churchill knew there were German uboats operating off the coast of Ireland and knew the Lusitania was headed directly towards one, but did not notify them in hopes to draw the unwilling Wilson into the war.
12:03 April 17, 2012 by Sayer
Are these the same intercepting "Authorities" which turn a blind eye to US and Israeli supplied and funded weapons going to the foreign mercenaries fighting to overthrow the majority accepted and therefore legitimate Government of Syria? What hypocrisy! Any thinking school-aged child can see that this is a neo-con Western effort to bantustan-ize Syria, impose a hegemonic pall of the region, and make it safer for Israel when the attack on Irane eventually starts. Fool us once...
08:30 April 18, 2012 by Sastry.M
Any thing can happen now a days when a joking lie of WMD's could threaten super powers, topple a regime costing lives in tens of thousand and bring about T.V series for public entertainment!
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