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Georgia Detains Ship Captain Over Abkhazia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 25 Aug.'09 / 19:10

A former captain of a Turkish cargo vessel, Buket, was arrested on August 24 on the charges related to unauthorized entry into the breakaway Abkhazia’s port, the Georgian Border Police said on Tuesday.

An Azerbaijani citizen, Ilgar Imanverdiev, was arrested in Georgia’s port of Batumi, where his current ship was docked, according to the Georgian Border Police.

“On June 14, 2009 he delivered with tanker [Buket] 2,600 tones of gasoline from Ukraine to the port of Sokhumi,” it said.

Buket itself was detained by the Georgian coast guard in mid-August when it was transporting 2,000 tones of gasoline and 700 tones of diesel fuel to Sokhumi. Its current captain was remanded in two-month pre-trial detention.

The Georgian Border Police said that Buket was detained for “multiple” unauthorized entry into the Abkhaz port.

The Georgian law on occupied territories bans economic activities in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia without Tbilisi’s authorization.

A Turkish operator of the cargo ship, Densa Tanker Operators, said Buket made five trips to Sokhumi in last twelve months.

The operator company said in a statement last week that Buket was detained by the Georgian coast guard outside the Georgian territorial waters, as well as the country’s economic zone - 96 miles from the Turkish port of Sinop and 256 miles from the Georgian port of Poti – in the international waters.

The Turkish business daily Referans reported on August 25 that Turkey’s Eastern Black Sea Exporters Association called on the government to raise the issue of seizure of the Turkish vessels with the Georgian authorities. According to this report Georgia seized about 100 vessels in last 15 years and still holds 10 vessels, including cargo ships and fishing boats.

In a separate development, but related to unauthorized Abkhaz entry, Georgian court sent a captain of cargo vessel, Afro Star, to two-month pre-trial detention. The vessel with seven crew members – all citizens of Syria – onboard was detained last week by the Georgian coast guard when it was sailing from Sokhumi to Turkey.

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