Turkey has opened a probe Friday into the suspension of its freighter Rosaline A in the Mediterranean Sea by marines from the German frigate Hamburg, part of the European Union's Operation Irini, which is tasked to enforce a UN embargo to stop weapons reaching conflict-torn Libya.
In a statement issued on Friday, the public prosecutor in Ankara said that although there was no authorization to search the commercial vessel in open waters on November 22, it was unlawfully searched, adding that it “opened an investigation” over the incident.
The German frigate Hamburg had boarded the freighter after orders from the mission's headquarters in Rome on suspicion it carried weapons to Libya.
The search operation was suspended as Turkey disapproved Irini’s “unilateral” action, saying the search was “unauthorized and conducted by force” and insisted that its objections prior to the search were ignored.
Irini later confirmed that the commercial Turkish cargo vessel was carrying food and paint supplies to Libya in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey’s National Security Council (MGK) chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoaan expressed Turkey’s disapproval and condemnation of Irini’s “unilateral” action and it reiterated the country’s determination to take the necessary steps against it.
Operation IRINI is a concrete contribution to international efforts to help to end the conflict in Libya.
In a related development, German media said a classified EU document revealed illegal arms cargo bound for Libya. It explained that a secret EU report cited by the German news agency DPA on Friday, indicated the Roseline A had long been watched on suspicion of making illegal arms shipments.
In a report for United Nations experts, EU-Irini military analysts had previously spotted military aircraft being unloaded in the Libyan port of Misrata in satellite images, the German news magazine Der Spiegel reported.
Operation IRINI said in a statement issued last week that it had reasonable grounds to suspect that it could be acting in violation of the UN arms embargo.
“Operation IRINI boarded the vessel and inspected it in accordance with internationally agreed procedures including NATO procedures and operation IRINI’s boarding team acted with the highest degree of professionalism,” it said.