Explosives sent to Greece by ship owner, man says

Thursday, June 26, 2003

MESSOLONGI, Greece -- For weeks, the creaky Balkan Sky languished off the Turkish coast waiting for orders to set sail for Sudan with tons of explosives. Then came a telex from the ship's Irish owner: Forget Africa and divert the cargo to a remote Greek port.

But Capt. Anatoliy Baltak of Ukraine, who gave the account Wednesday, claimed he and his crew had no idea they were breaking the law when they sailed into Greek waters and straight into a team of waiting commandos -- who had been tipped off about the ship by a NATO anti-terrorist task force.

"I didn't think I was doing something illegal," Baltak said in his first public comments on the vessel's nearly six-week voyage. "It didn't even cross my mind that terrorism was an issue."

Al-Qaida suspects leave Malawi in U.S. custody

BLANTYRE, Malawi -- U.S. officials flew five men suspected of helping funnel money to al-Qaida out of Malawi, despite a court order preventing their deportation, Malawian officials said Wednesday.

The men were arrested Sunday night with assistance from the CIA and handed over to U.S. authorities Monday night, Malawi intelligence officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The men were flown to nearby Botswana on an Air Malawi flight, the officials said.

An airline official confirmed one of its planes had been chartered Monday.

Director of Public Prosecutions Fahad Assani said the men were handed over to U.S. authorities but he said he had not been informed of their whereabouts.

"These people are out of reach for us. It's the Americans who know where they are," Assani said.

Officials in Malawi said the five suspects had been on the CIA's "watch list" since the twin 1998 truck bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. U.S. authorities blame Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network for the attacks, which killed 231 people, including 12 Americans.

Poles fine abortion group for breaking harbor rules

WARSAW, Poland -- Polish harbor officials fined Dutch abortion rights campaigners on Wednesday for disregarding docking rules as they brought their controversial ship into a Baltic Sea port over the weekend.

The visit by the Langenort has angered Poland's influential Roman Catholic church and anti-abortion groups. Women on Waves, the Dutch group, plans to take Polish women out to international waters -- out of reach of Polish abortion law, one of Europe's strictest -- and offer advice on contraceptives and medical services.

Harbor officials levied the $3,150 fine on the ship because its crew failed to answer calls from the harbormaster asking it to identify the ship as it approached the port of Wladyslawowo on Sunday.

Pope to finish writing book while on vacation

VATICAN CITY -- Pope John Paul II, the author of verse, essays and plays, is writing another book about his years as a bishop, the Vatican said Wednesday.

The 83-year-old pope hopes to complete the work -- about his "pastoral and human experience" as a bishop in Poland -- while vacationing at the papal retreat in Castel Gandolfo this summer, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said.

John Paul plans to leave Vatican City for his annual stay in the hills south of Rome on July 10, he said.

Navarro-Valls denied rumors the pope might undergo surgery for his arthritic knee during the break, saying the pope's agenda included writing the book and other activities.

In March, the Vatican released "Roman Triptych" -- the first book of poetry John Paul had written since becoming pope in 1978. He wrote it during his vacation at Castel Gandolfo last summer, inspired by his nostalgic trip to his beloved Poland in August.

-- From wire reports

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: