As reported by MENA Media Monitor last week already, Italian authorities have revealed new and exciting details about the information that led to the arrest of the cargo vessel Bana, held in Genoa port, on charges of weapons trafficking from Turkey to Libya.
An Italian judicial source revealed that the detention was carried out based on a report by a Turkish officer. He confirmed that the vessel was loaded with weapons in Mersin port heading towards Tripoli.
According to the route, the ship was scheduled to go from Mersin to Genoa, but some Turkish military officers asked the crew to stop in Tripoli, allegedly due to a mechanical problem. Sources said that the Turkish officer, who reported the vessel, has asked for political asylum. He pointed out that the ship was loaded with weapons, including tanks, howitzers, machine guns and air defense systems.
At the same time, the Chief Prosecutor in Genoa, Franco Cozzi said that the Italian authorities are analyzing the ship’s navigation equipment and mobile phones of crew members with the aim of verifying the route followed by the Bana, whose transponders were turned off after it left the Turkish port.
Cozzi pointed out that the ship’s captain, Joussef Tartiussi, a Lebanese national, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of trying to influence his crew’s testimony and concealing evidence, Cozzi said.
The vessel continued its route without cargo to Genoa in order to load cars in the Italian port, according to Cozzi.
Even though the alleged trafficking had not taken place in Italian waters, it was still necessary to carry out the investigation because if it had occurred, any arms deliveries would be in violation of the UN embargo, Cozzi added.
It’s noteworthy that reliable sources in Italy confirmed to MENA Monitor, that the detained cargo vessel which was trafficking Turkish weapons to Libya, belonged to an alleged Hezbollah member, Mari Abu Mari, owner of the Abu Mari Group, listed under U.S. sanctions.
The relation between the vessel’s owner and Hezbollah should be allegedly based on money laundering that Hezbollah should have conducted through Abu Mari companies. Sources close to the businessman state that Hezbollah got big sums of money from the vessel’s owner; however, Hezbollah hasn’t made any comment on this regard.
According to the sources that provided MENA Media Monitor with exclusive photos from Genoa port, the vessel was previously named Sham 1, and they confirmed that it carried two shipments of weapons, the first was loaded in the port of Haidarpasha near Istanbul for unloading in the port of Mistreat, while the second was loaded in the Turkish port of Mersin for the destination of Tripoli.
In conjunction with the ongoing Italian investigations, the spokesperson of the General Command of the Libyan Armed Forces, Major General Ahmed Al-Mesmari said in a statement on his official Facebook page, that reconnaissance units in the Libyan National Army monitored the arrival of weapons and military equipment from Turkey through Misurata port to support the combat capabilities of what he described as terrorist organizations and armed gangs in the western region.
Al-Masmari indicated that the Turkish support provided to the militias is happening openly in front of the international community, an act considered as a violation of the declared truce in the region. He added that the National Army did not respond yet, it, however, follows up and evaluates the situation and developments round the clock.
The developments of the Libyan situation and the case of Bana cargo vessel come at a time when any weapons supply to Libya is in fact a violation of a U.N. ban, which in consequence led the Italian authorities to inspect the vessel accurately and intensively, searching for any evidence that proves Turkey’s involvement in violating the weapons ban on Libya.