Crew of cigarette-smuggling ship remanded in custody

The six Ukrainian crew members of the Tanzania-flagged freighter “Golendri” were remanded in custody on Wednesday, after testifying before a Piraeus prosecutor and examining magistrate. The six were arrested last Saturday after the “Golendri” was intercepted by the Greek coast guard, which found 1,557,200 packets of contraband cigarettes on board.

The ship’s crew will be held at the Elefsina coast guard holding cells until Thursday, when the Piraeus magistrate will decide which correctional facility they will be sent to.

The “Golendri” had set sail from Bar in Montenegro, and was heading to Tobruk, Libya, when it was spotted by Greek authorities sailing south of Sfakia, Crete. The coast guard operation caught the crew and accomplices as they had started unloading the ship’s cargo into smaller boats.

The crew denied that the ship was smuggling contraband and said it had stopped in the waters off Crete in order to prepare for the next leg of its journey to Libya.

Coast guard officers contradicted this claim in statements to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, however, pointing out that the freighter had been under surveillance for days and was seen unloading its cargo into a speedboat, and then to four trucks in Sfakia Bay, rather than a port with a customs post.

The four trucks on the shore were abandoned by their drivers, while the speedboat succeeded in getting away.