[QODLink]
Africa
Somaliland releases Russian crew
Six Russian crew members given suspended one-year sentences for trying to fly arms into Puntland region.
Last Modified: 31 Dec 2010 01:27 GMT
Somaliland, which voted for its own president in June, is not internationall recognised as sovereign [EPA]

Six Russians have been released by a court in Somaliland after being sentenced to one-year suspended prison sentences for entering the enclave's airspace illegally and landing a plane with military supplies in violation of a UN embargo.

In his ruling on Thursday at the court in the city of of Hargeisa, judge Abdirqahman Jama Hayan also fined each man three million Somaliland shillings, or around $600.

The six Russians were arrested earlier this month after they landed an Antonov-24 cargo plane at the Egal International Airport on December 10.

Two South African citizens on board the plane have since been released.

The cargo on the flight also reportedly included bullet and grenade pouches.

Aden Ahmed Diriye, assistant general prosecutor, told the court that claims by the crew that an emergency landing was necessary because the plane was suffering from a fuel shortage were false.

Kadar Mohamed Guleid, the Russians' lawyer, said he was satisfied by the verdict and would not appeal.

All of the weapons on the plane will be confiscated, the judge announced.

Somaliland declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991 following violent crackdowns against local people by

President Siad Barre, who led Somalia from 1969 until his downfall in 1991, which precipitated the war that still engulfs the country.

Puntland, which unlike Somaliland does not seek recognition as an independent state, was formed in 1998.

Somaliland is involved in a border dispute with Puntland and the two security forces sometimes clash.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.