NEWS

Court orders destruction of dangerous explosives

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A Greek appeals court on Rhodes has approved the destruction of a large load of explosives seized from a Maltese-flagged cargo ship by the Hellenic Coast Guard in 2017. 

The decision to hasten the procedure for the destruction of the cargo was taken last week by a prosecutor on Rhodes who is handling the case, fearing an accident similar to that which shook Beirut on the afternoon of August 4.

According to a document seen by Kathimerini, the prosecutor submitted a request to the Dodecanese Court of Appeal on August 18, two weeks after the deadly blast in Beirut, asking it to allow the destruction of the explosives located in 81 containers which have remained in storage for the past 3.5 years.

The freighter’s Ukrainian captain was also summoned to the hearing. On September 2, the court issued its ruling.

The Mekong Spirit sailed in May 2017 from Zaragoza, Spain, loaded with 52 containers of explosives, which it would unload successively in Djibouti, Indonesia and Australia.

Another 29 containers of explosives were loaded in Turkey for transport to Sudan, the first stop of the ship’s long journey.

On the afternoon of May 23, while sailing off Kos, the freighter was stopped by the Greek Coast Guard and was taken to Souda, Crete, for inspection.

Although there was no inconsistency between the official cargo documents and what was found in the containers, the explosives were confiscated and crew members were arrested on charges of illegally supplying terrorist groups with ammunition and explosives.

Law firms in Greece and abroad involved in the case had requested the adjournment of the trial for a period of 2.5 weeks, in order for the prosecutor’s request to be tried along with the main case against the captain and crew of the cargo ship. However, their request was rejected.