August 18, 2009
Hijack suspects detained aboard Arctic Sea
In addition to the crew of 15, eight suspected hijackers were aboard the cargo ship Arctic Sea when it was boarded by the Russian Navy yesterday (SEE EARLIER REPORT). According to Russian state-controlled news outlets, the ship was freed without a shot being fired and four Estonians, two Latvians and two Russians were surrendered and are under arrest.
Russian defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov today said that investigation had established that an inflatable boat with the eight on board approached the Arctic Sea in Swedish territorial waters on July 24 at 23:00, Moscow time. Saying that their boat was out of order, they embarked the Arctic Sea and then, at gunpoint, demanded that the crew fully obey all their orders.
"The hijackers boarded the Arctic Sea, threatened the crew with weapons and demanded that their orders be followed. The Arctic Sea was following a route toward the African continent with all communications and navigation equipment shut down, as ordered by the hijackers," Mr. Serdyukov reported to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
Russia's Investigation Commission has launched a criminal probe in connection with the hijacking. The Finnish police today said that the Joint Investigation Team set up by Sweden, Malta and Finland would continue its pre-trial investigation into aggravated extortion and hijacking in the case and said a request for legal assistance will be made to the Russian authorities for starting a closer cooperation. The Finnish police said more information on the investigation will be given as soon as possible, on Monday 24 August 2009 at the latest.