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Italy arrests ship’s captain over alleged Libya arms trafficking from Turkey

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

GENOA, Italy – Italian authorities have arrested the captain of a Lebanese-flagged cargo ship which was seized in the port of Genoa on suspicion of trafficking arms to Libya, including tanks and artillery, the city’s chief prosecutor said on Friday.

Any deliveries of weapons to Libya would be in violation of a United Nations embargo, although U.N. officials say the embargo has been subject to frequent violations.

The vessel, the Bana, was blocked by police in Genoa harbor on Feb. 3.

It was then searched after a ship’s officer told Italian authorities that weapons had been loaded onto the ship at the Turkish port of Mersin then transported to the Libyan capital Tripoli, a judicial source said.

The shipment included tanks, howitzers, machineguns and air defense systems, the source said.

The ship was originally scheduled to sail from Turkey to Genoa. But according to the informant, who has requested political asylum, Turkish military officers escorting the shipment had told the crew to declare that the stop in Tripoli was due to mechanical problem.

The Bana then continued without cargo to Genoa in order to load cars in the Italian port, chief prosecutor Franco Cozzi said.

The ship’s captain, Joussef Tartiussi, a Lebanese national, was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of trying to influence his crew’s testimony and concealing evidence, Cozzi said.

Reuters

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