#14 - JRL 2009-164 - JRL Home
Arctic Sea cargo ship approaches Mediterranean on way to Russia

MOSCOW, September 3 (RIA Novosti) - The Arctic Sea cargo ship that was missing for more than two weeks before being freed from hijackers is preparing to enter the Mediterranean Sea, a Russian military source said on Thursday.

The Maltese-flagged vessel was discovered off Cape Verde in the Atlantic on August 16 by Russia's Ladny warship. It is being towed to Novorossiisk, and is due to arrive in the Russian Black Sea port in late September.

"The Arctic Sea vessel is currently in the Atlantic and is preparing to enter the Mediterranean Sea," the source said, adding that the vessel is not expected to enter any foreign ports on its way to Novorossiisk.

Russia's Defense Ministry declined to comment on the information.

Four crew members remain on board, while the other 11 were flown to Moscow last month to be questioned by the Russian authorities amid speculation that they may have been in cahoots with the alleged hijackers. They have reportedly now returned home to the northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk.

Eight men, including citizens of Russia, Latvia and Estonia, have been arrested and charged with piracy and kidnapping.

Malta, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Latvia have established an investigation team to look into the incident. They agreed that any other suspect in the case would be tried in his home country.

Representatives of Russian, Finnish, Swedish and Estonian investigation authorities, each carrying out its own investigation into the incident, met on Thursday in Moscow.

Press speculation over the mystery surrounding the Arctic Sea's disappearance has been rife, with some media outlets saying the Russian authorities are trying to cover up an arms- smuggling or trafficking operation.

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