NEWS

Hellenic Navy denies theft of anti-personnel mines from Leros warehouse

TAGS: Crime, Defense

The Hellenic Navy on Thursday denied a press report claiming that anti-personnel landmines were stolen along with other military equipment from its base on the island of Leros on Monday, saying it does not have any such weapons in stock.

“The reports…are untrue and do not correspond to reality,” HN said in a press release, adding that it does not possess in its arsenal material that has been banned by international treaties and agreements.

Greek newspaper Estia reported on Thursday that 140 APLs were among the weapons taken from the base on Monday. Greece is a signatory of the 1999 Ottawa Convention or Mine Ban Treaty, which seeks to end their use worldwide. Its APLs should have been destroyed by March 2008.

The paper also claims that Greece still has 400,000 APLs in military warehouses.

Both the Navy and the Greek Police’s counterterrorism unit launched investigations on Tuesday after the former issued a statement saying that anti-tank missiles, ammunition and grenades were found to be missing from the island’s base following a routine inspection on Monday afternoon.

Counterterrorism officers were on the island within hours of the navy’s announcement.

Sources at the police and the country’s armed forces suggest that suspicions are focusing on two guards who had access to the area where the equipment was stored.

The storage area is protected by an electronic security system for which both guards had the passcode, Kathimerini understands.

A third individual, a member of the Hellenic Navy’s Underwater Demolition Squad, is also believed to have had access, so he is also a potential suspect. However, authorities are not ruling out the possibility of the passcode having been leaked to someone else.

It is thought that the motive for the removal of the equipment could be arms smuggling.

However, the authorities have not yet ruled out two other possible scenarios – that the theft was the work of a domestic guerrilla group or that of a foreign-based group or agency.

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