Finland Releases Impounded Ship, Without Missiles

Posted December 26th, 2011 at 1:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Transport officials in Finland say a ship that docked in the Scandinavian country earlier this month has been allowed to leave after its cargo of 69 Patriot surface-to-air missiles and at least 150 tons of explosives were removed from the vessel.

Authorities said Monday that the ban on the Thor Liberty was lifted Monday but that its cargo remains impounded.

Finnish officials discovered and confiscated the missiles and explosives last week during a search of the ship in the Finnish port of Kotka. The officials said the vessel was headed for the Chinese port of Shanghai and that the cargo was impounded because it did not have the proper transit documents.

A German Defense Ministry spokesman denied the claim, saying the shipment came from the German military and was part of a legal sale destined for South Korea.

The ship's Ukrainian captain and chief officer remain in custody on suspicion of violating weapons export laws.

China on Friday denied any involvement with the missile shipment.