NEWS

Greece starts checks on vessel alleged to be carrying 20,000 AK-47s

Coast guard and customs officials began checking on Monday the cargo on board the Nour-M, a ship stopped of Rhodes on suspicion that it is carrying illegal arms and explosives.

The vessel is alleged to be carrying 20,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles. Merchant Marine Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis and Coast Guard chief Dimitris Bantias are expected to inspect the checks on Monday.

The ship’s captain, though, has denied that the Sierra Leone-flagged vessel was carrying any illegal weapons and said the cargo was destined for Libya’s Defense Ministry.

“The ship had on board containers that we loaded in Ukraine to be transported to the Tripoli port and then delivered to the Libyan Defense Ministry,» Huseyin Yılmaz, a Turkish national, told Turkey’s Dogan news agency.

“I told them to arrest me if there were any weapons. But the police did not have the courage to look into the containers because it was a transit shipment. I and my two Turkish crew members have been interrogated nine times,» he added.