The Telegraph
Sunday , June 27 , 2010
Since 1st March, 1999
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Arms ship set for city port

Calcutta, June 26: A detained Karachi-bound ship carrying military hardware will be brought to Calcutta port for scrutiny.

Port authorities said the Panama-registered Aegean Glory was likely to be brought tomorrow if the tides were favourable. The ship is about 230km from the city.

Customs officials will check the contents of the vessel’s containers to see if they tally with the inventory provided by the ship’s captain.

The ship, which was proceeding towards Calcutta port, was stopped at the Sandheads at the confluence of the Bay of Bengal and Hooghly yesterday after discrepancies were found between the contents of a list provided by the clearing agent in Calcutta and the declaration made by the captain. The ship was supposed to offload some of its cargo at Calcutta port.

Nicholas, the Greek captain, had told the Calcutta Port Trust pilot who had boarded the Aegean Glory to escort it to Calcutta port that the ship was carrying military hardware, including rocket launchers and anti-aircraft guns, to Karachi. This detail, however, had not been mentioned by the clearing agent.

Investigations have revealed that the military hardware had been sent by the UN mission in Liberia. Three containers carrying them were meant for the Pakistani army.

A Pakistani army general was supposed to receive the containers at Karachi port.

Police said customs officials were trying to get in touch with the UN’s movements control office in New York to get clearance for scanning the ship’s contents.

“If a ship is carrying hazardous cargo — which the Aegean Glory was — it is mandatory for the clearing agent to declare it. The ship will be brought to Calcutta and the contents will be checked,” said Bhupinder Singh, the director-general of police.

Chrystal Shipping, the clearing agent in Calcutta for the Aegean Glory, had the necessary documents for offloading at Calcutta port.

The state government has asked the company to explain if the omission on its part was intentional.

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