Sudan criticises Greece for stopping ship

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail slammed Greece on Tuesday for seizing a ship carrying explosives to Sudan which it said were for civilian purposes.

    Ship sailed under the Comoros 
    flag of convenience

    Ismail said the ship was carrying ammonium nitrates which had been ordered by a registered Sudanese company from a Tunisian one.

    The Foreign Minister, quoted by state-run Omdurman radio and SUNA news agency, said all documents concerning the shipment were approved through his ministry.

    Ismail said he had ordered the Greek ambassador in Khartoum to be summoned to the foreign ministry to show him all the documents.

    The Greek coastguard seized a ship carrying huge quantities of explosives on Monday, preventing its passage to an unknown recipient in Sudan. 

    Casting doubts on the legality of the ship's activities, Greek Shipping Minister George Anomeritis said the vessel did not report its 680-tonne cargo of dynamite when the coastguard stopped it.

    The ship “did not report its cargo … destined for a company with a post office box in Khartoum that does not exist", Anomeritis told a press conference.
    Earlier, the coastguard confirmed the ship was carrying ammonia dynamite, an explosive widely used in mining, as well as 8,000 detonators and fuses. 

    Ship storming

    Elite troops stormed the Comoros-flagged Baltic Sky while it sailed in western Greek waters late on Sunday after receiving a tip-off from international intelligence agencies that it was carrying a suspicious cargo in its hold.

    "There was no report of resistance from the crew when we boarded it," said second deputy Coast Guard chief George Papachristodoulou.
    The Greek coast guard had shadowed the ship for five days.
    Bomb experts have already examined the cargo and the Baltic Sky's seven crew are under arrest and being questioned by public prosecutors.

    The crew comprised five Ukrainian nationals, including the captain, and two Azeris.
    The ship was now under strict police guard at the western port of Platiyali near the seaside town of Astakos.
    Suspicious ship movements
    Anomeritis said the ship's cargo with a Khartoum destination was listed on its manifest, but the vessel's movements over the past six weeks added to suspicions about its activities.
    "No one would call legal a cargo that is going around the Mediterranean for a month," Anomeritis said.
    He said the Baltic Sky left Albania on 27 April, stopped at Gabes in Tunisia on 12 May where the explosives were loaded, showed up in Istanbul on 22 May and was sighted in waters off northern Turkey on 2 June.
    Greece has increased collaboration with international police ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympics and has beefed up patrols off its shores to stem a growing flow of illegal immigrants.
    NATO forces have also boarded ships in the Mediterranean over the last few months as part of a US-led initiative at controlling the trade in weapons. The Comoros flag is considered a flag of convenience.
    The Baltic Sky was owned by a Marshall Islands registered company named Alpha Shipping Inc.   


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