Finland says it has no German permit for missile shipment

23rd December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Finland did not receive the paperwork required from Germany to allow the transit of 69 Patriot missiles through its territory, despite Berlin's claims it had sent the documents, a government official said Friday.

The surface-to-air missiles, produced by US firm Raytheon, were discovered Wednesday on a British-registered ship docked in the Finnish port of Kotka and bound for the Chinese port city of Shanghai, according to Finnish police.

Finnish customs are investigating the case as one of illegal export of defence material. Two Ukrainians -- the ship's captain and the first mate -- have been detained.

"The applications (for transit licences) are confidential, but we have said that no one has applied for a license," a senior adviser at the Finnish defence ministry, Sanna Poutiainen, told AFP.

She said it was up to "the entity responsible for the shipment or who owned the material to apply for the license."

A German defence ministry spokesman said Thursday the missiles came from the German military and were destined for South Korea, not China.

He said it was a "legal sale on the basis of an accord between two states at the government level". He said the transaction had received an official export authorisation and was reported to customs authorities.

Beijing on Friday denied the vessel and shipment had anything to do with China.

"I don't see the ship transporting the missiles having anything to do with China," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a regular briefing.

© 2011 AFP

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