Russia completes Arctic Sea piracy investigation: official

17th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russian investigators have completed an inquiry into the piracy mystery of the cargo ship Arctic Sea and forwarded their findings to prosecutors, officials said Wednesday.

"The criminal investigation was forwarded to the Prosecutor General of Russia to establish the charges" against six suspected pirates, the spokesman to the investigative committee Vladimir Markin was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

Two other pirates, Andrei Lunev and Dmitry Savin, have already been convicted by a Russian court and sentenced to five and seven years in prison respectively in connection with the case that hit international headlines in 2009.

The Maltese-flagged Arctic Sea was allegedly hijacked in July 2009 by masked men posing as police near the coast of Sweden, then recaptured in August by Russian warships.

The boldness of the seizure and the huge international effort to recover the ship prompted speculation that it may have been carrying a secret cargo.

But Maltese inspectors said that they had determined the ship to be free of radioactive materials or dangerous chemicals.

Moscow has strongly denied reports that the ship may have been carrying advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran.

Eight people -- including Russians, Estonians and Latvians -- have been arrested in Russia on charges of piracy and kidnapping. They have maintained their innocence.

An act of piracy in Swedish waters -- the official version of the Russian authorities -- has been challenged by maritime experts who have doubted that light will ever be shed on what cargo the ship was carrying.

© 2010 AFP

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