No weapons found on Syria-bound German ship - source

BERLIN, April 25 Wed Apr 25, 2012 11:45am EDT

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BERLIN, April 25 (Reuters) - Inspectors have found no weapons aboard a German-owned ship suspected earlier of carrying arms and ammunition to Syria in breach of an arms embargo, a German government source said on Wednesday.

The Atlantic Cruiser was towed to Turkey's Mediterranean Iskenderun port last week for inspection after it was reported to be carrying Iranian weapons to Syria.

"The Turkish foreign ministry informed the German government on Tuesday that the inspection of the cargo of the Atlantic Cruiser has been completed and the Turkish authorities have not found any weapons or munitions for Syria on board the ship," the source said.

The freight documents of the ship were also in order, the source said.

The ship, owned by German company W. Bockstiegel, came under scrutiny this month when German news magazine Der Spiegel reported it was carrying weapons in violation of EU sanctions.

The magazine said the ship loaded the cargo in Djibouti and changed course for Iskenderun in Turkey when the cargo was at risk of being uncovered. The ship docked at the Turkish port last week where it was searched by Turkish authorities.

W. Bockstiegel said it had no information about any weapons on board the ship, which was originally bound for the Syrian port of Tartus.

White Whale Shipping, the Ukrainian company that chartered the Atlantic Cruiser, denied there were arms on board and said its cargo was civilian goods.

Western sanctions imposed on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad include an arms embargo and a ban on importing Syrian oil into the European Union. (Reporting by Alice Baghdjian Editing by Maria Golovnina)

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