German soldiers halt Turkish ship off Libya

Turkey prevented German forces belonging to a European Union military mission carrying out a full search of a Turkish cargo ship that they suspected of taking weapons to Libya, both countries confirmed on Monday.

German soldiers on duty off Libya to check the United Nations (UN) arms embargo as part of the European Union (EU) mission, stopped a Turkish cargo ship.

The Turkish-flagged "ROSELINE-A" ship, which had weighed anchor in Istanbul, was stopped yesterday (November 22) night by the German frigate in charge of EU's Operation IRINI under the direction of a commander from the Greek Navy.

The frigate was operating in the Mediterranean as part of the Irini mission, which aims to stop arms reaching the warring factions in Libya.

According to Reuters, Germany suspected that Turkish ship was carrying weapons, but the Turkish ship did not allow the search to be completed.

Der Spiegel reported that Turkey protested the German troops searching the ship and did not allow the EU mission to check the ship. It is further reported that the German soldiers working within the EU left the ship which then continues on its course.

“By the time the soldiers left the ship, they had not found anything suspicious,” a German defence ministry spokesman said.

Confirming a report in the news magazine Der Spiegel, the German spokesman said the Hamburg had intercepted the Rosaline A about 200 km (125 miles) north of the Libyan city of Benghazi on Sunday night.

He said the Hamburg had followed standard procedure by waiting four hours for approval from the flag country, and then boarding. Later, once the objection arrived, they withdrew.

“All procedures were followed correctly,” a German foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

The 16,000-tonne container ship left the Turkish port of Gemlik near Bursa last week, and was last seen off Athens, heading southwest towards Libya, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.