Eight people have reportedly been arrested for the hijacking of the Arctic Sea. It is alleged that the group of four Estonians, two Latvians and two Russians, approached Arctic Sea in a dinghy requesting help to repair a vessel then took over the ship at gunpoint on 24 July.
Arctic Sea’s crew of 15 are safe and are being debriefed by Russian naval personnel. The vessel, missing for two weeks after disappearing in the English Channel was found by the Russian Navy off Cape Verde Islands two days after denials were issued that she had been seen there.
Stil unexplained is why a Russian naval vessel transmitted an AIS signal from the Bay of Biscay on Saturday.
According to Malta’s Maritime Authority, Arctic Sea is flagged in Malta, Finnish, Swedish and Maltese authorities are conducting investigations in close cooperation into the alleged offences relating to the cargo vessel Arctic Sea.
The investigated offences are alleged aggravated extortion and alleged hijacking. Taken into consideration the general characteristics of the aggravated extortion and the related significant threats to life and health, any public communication on the case is not possible. The investigation into the case is still underway and it is not possible to give any detailed information on it at this stage.
According to the allegations, also published in international media, the cargo vessel Arctic Sea, registered under the Maltese flag, was hijacked on the Swedish waters on 24 July 2009. The Finnish shipping company reported the case to the Finnish police which referred it to the Swedish police. The authorities have not been able to confirm the alleged hijacking, and the connection between the alleged incident and the later events has not been established yet.
Finland, Sweden and Malta started joint investigation early on in the case. In addition, authorities from more than 20 countries have contributed to it. The communication has been conducted through the Interpol and Europol channels.
The Situation Centre for the pre-trial investigation conducted in Finland and the international communications is located at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Finland. Finnish Customs, Border Guard, Finnish Security Police and different units of the local police, among others, have been key partners of the NBI in the case.