Baltic Sky mystery gets complicated

As Sudan and Tunisia protested that the huge cargo of explosives impounded by Greece on Sunday was perfectly legal, Athens stressed that its commandos had boarded the freighter carrying it because it had broken maritime law by not declaring its dangerous load before entering Greek waters. The Comoros-flagged Baltic Sky remained under guard in the western port of Platiyiali, while security forces began to remove some 140,000 detonators on it. Its five Ukrainian and two Azeri crewmen are to appear before an investigating magistrate today, charged with illegal possession of explosives and breaking maritime laws. In Khartoum, Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail summoned Ambassador Giorgos Moschonas and showed him documents which he said proved the existence of the Integrated Chemicals and Development company that had ordered 680 tons of industrial-grade ammonium nitrate explosives from the Societe Tunisienne d’Explosifs et Munitions (SOTEMU). Greek authorities said on Monday they questioned the existence of recipient. «We want the Greek government to verify these documents and then deal with the question accordingly,» Ismail told reporters. «We have demanded the release of the vessel so that it can arrive in Sudan for us to make use of the shipment,» Agence France-Presse quoted him as saying. «The Greek government, maybe, wanted to join in the now declared war against terrorism and used this question to show it was siding with the anti-terrorism efforts,» he said. Greek Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis insisted: «What international public opinion wants to know is how come a voyage of four days (from Gabes in Tunisia to Port Sudan), with such a cargo, did not alarm any of those belatedly showing concern when it continued for 41 days?» Tunisian Interior Minister Hedi M’Henni ridiculed this. «To our great surprise, the Greek shipping minister had given amazing information about the case of the ship carrying the explosives. That information is groundless,» he said. Tunisia said the cargo was a regular delivery of explosives for civil purposes like mining and construction.

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