Foreign seamen on trial for Atlantic drug-running

16th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

RENNES, France, May 16 (AFP) - Eleven foreign seamen went on trial in the western French city of Rennes on Monday for their alleged involvement in a massive cocaine smuggling operation between Latin America and Spain.

RENNES, France, May 16 (AFP) - Eleven foreign seamen went on trial in the western French city of Rennes on Monday for their alleged involvement in a massive cocaine smuggling operation between Latin America and Spain.  

The Cambodian-registered ship Winner was allegedly carrying two tonnes of cocaine when it was intercepted by the French navy off Spain's Canary Islands on June 13, 2002, but crew members told police they had time to throw most of the drugs overboard first.  

Only 80 kilos (175 pounds) of cocaine were eventually recovered from the vessel.   

The ship's Greek captain Georgios Boreas, 61, and Cypriot head mechanic Simeon Theophanous, 59, are accused of masterminding the smuggling operation and could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.  

Prosecutors said they organized the drugs trafficking with their South American suppliers, but Theophanous said: "I know I am innocent."  

Two Chilean sailors face up to 30 years in prison, while seven others charged with complicity in drugs trafficking - four Romanians and three Ukrainians - face lesser maximum sentences.  

The two Greek owners of the Winner were sentenced to life in prison by an Athens court.  

A Spanish sailor suspected of being one of the key figures in the smuggling ring died in the Senagalese capital Dakar after suffering injuries during the interception of the ship.   The trial was expected to last through May 27.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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