British-registered ship caught taking arms to China
Vessel impounded after 160 tonnes of explosives and 69 missiles were discovered on board
A British-flagged cargo ship has been impounded by Finnish authorities after 160 tonnes of explosives and 69 surface-to-air missiles were found on board.
The Thor Liberty was on its way to Shanghai, China, after setting sail from the German port of Emden on 13 December. The British-registered ship, owned by a Danish firm, Thorco, docked two days later in Kotka, Finland, to pick up a cargo of anchor chains.
The missiles, produced by the US firm Raytheon, were discovered after a search of the vessel by customs officials. Petri Lounatmaa, a Finnish customs spokesman, said investigators did not yet know the origin of the Patriot missiles or who was supposed to receive them.
"We have impounded the explosives and missiles and asked the Defence Ministry to transport and store them," Mr Lounatmaa said.
"At this stage we don't know where it [the cargo] was loaded on the ship or if the Thor Liberty planned a drop before its port of destination in China." Mr Lounatmaa said customs officials and police have launched a joint investigation into a possible breach of Finnish export and weapons-trading laws. "We have started questioning the crew," Mr Lounatmaa said. "As the investigation continues decisions will be made about possible arrests."
Mr Lounatmaa said that there were about 32 crew members on board the vessel and that questioning them could continue well into Friday. Detective Superintendent Timo Virtanen, of the National Bureau of Investigation, said dock workers found the explosives – picric acid – stored on open pallets instead of in closed containers. They alerted inspectors, who found the missiles in containers with markings that indicated they were holding fireworks.
The Finnish Interior Minister Paivi Rasanen said she had not heard of a similar case. "Of course, there are legal transports of weapons or defence material [through Finland], but in this case the cargo was marked as containing fireworks," she told Finland's YLE TV.
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
- 3 Amal Clooney gives excellent answer to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 4 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Isis publicly behead man in Syrian town square for 'insulting Allah' as he screams for help
Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
Amal Clooney gives excellent answer to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Sir David Attenborough interview: The one question about life that still baffles him
Isis publicly behead man in Syrian town square for 'insulting Allah' as he screams for help
One spelling error costs Companies House up to £9 million after being sued for ruining business
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...
£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...