Italian authorities have arrested the captain of a Lebanese-flagged cargo ship, which was seized in the port of Genoa on suspicion of trying to influence his crew’s testimony that the ship carried Turkish weapons to Libya, Reuters reported on Friday.
The vessel, the Bana, was blocked by police in Genoa harbour on Feb. 3, Reuters said.
It was then searched after a ship’s officer told Italian authorities that weapons had been loaded onto the ship at the Turkish port of Mersin then transported to the Libyan capital Tripoli, it said citing a judicial source.
The shipment included tanks, howitzers, machine guns and air defence systems, the source said.
The ship was originally scheduled to sail from Turkey to Genoa, but Turkish military officers escorting the shipment told the crew to declare that the stop in Tripoli was due to mechanical problem, the informant told Italian authorities.
The ship’s captain, Joussef Tartiussi, a Lebanese national, was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of trying to influence his crew’s testimony and concealing evidence, chief prosecutor Franco Cozzi said.
Turkey, together with Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, have regularly violated the United Nations arms embargo imposed on Libya since 2011, a U.N. report revealed in December.
Turkey signed a military cooperation agreement with the U.N.-recognised government in Tripoli in November. The Turkish government announced officially that it would start sending military equipment and personnel to Tripoli after the parliament ratified the agreement in January. But the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar has several times claimed downing Turkish drones, after it launched an assault on Tripoli in April.