Ukrainians Detained for Smuggling Explosives

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry says the ammonium nitrate transported by the vessel had no connection with terrorism
Information about the detention of the Baltic Sky cargo ship with 680 tons of ammonium nitrate and detonators on board is now widely discussed in Ukraine. Greek coast guards agents seized the vessel in the southern Ionian Sea. The explosive discovered on board is often used in mining; however it may be used for other purposes as well. The Greek police learnt about the dangerous cargo from an anonymous telephone call. Investigators were astonished to discover such considerable amounts of explosives; some official representative even called the seized vessel "a nuclear bomb equivalent".

The ship is registered to Alpha Shipping Inc. based in the Pacific Ocean nation of Marshall Islands. The Comoros-flagged ship left Albania in late April for Tunisia, picked up its cargo, then headed toward Istanbul. At some point it turned back into the Aegean Sea and entered international waters in the eastern Mediterranean until it entered Greek waters. The captain and majority of the crew are Ukrainians. The head of the Ukraine Foreign Ministry's press-service Markiyan Lubkivsky told journalists on Monday that detained Ukrainian sailors were kept in the Greek port of Astakos where the people were treated "very correctly". The owner of the ship is an Irish citizen; it was he who gave the captain the instruction to head for the Greek port of Astakos "for possible unloading".

The unloading was allegedly agreed with the Greek coastal guards, but the ship was suddenly arrested as it had no documents allowing import of explosives to Greece. Representatives of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry emphasize that the ammonium nitrate transported by the vessel was probably meant for peaceful purposes and had no connection with terrorism. But LIGABusinessInform reports with reference to BBC that criminal proceedings have been already initiated against the Baltic Sky crew. The sailors - five Ukrainians and two Azerbaijanis – are charged with transportation of explosives and with illegal transfer of the dangerous cargo through the territorial waters of Greece without preliminary official notification of the Greek authorities. If the charges are proved, the crew may face imprisonment of 5 to 20 years. Representatives of the Ukrainian Embassy in Greece are to meet with the five detained Ukrainian sailors on Tuesday. Probably, the meeting will unveil more information about the "dangerously explosive" cargo.

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Author`s name Michael Simpson