Venezuela releases US ship, skipper (Lead)

September 12th, 2012 - 4:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Caracas, Sep 12 (IANS/EFE) Venezuela has released a US-flagged cargo ship and its captain after investigating an undeclared weapon found on it, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday.

The vessel was released in the western port city of Maracaibo.

“A check was made of a gun that had not been declared and the judge decided to free the captain and allow the ship to leave,” the minister said in an aside at a press meet called by President Hugo Chavez.

US diplomatic sources told EFE last week the Ocean Atlas had been ordered to remain in port at Maracaibo and the ship’s skipper had been taken into custody.

The captain was taken to the headquarters of Venezuela’s Sebin intelligence service, Maracaibo newspaper Panorama said.

The case of the Ocean Atlas came a month after Venezuela detained a US citizen who, according to Chavez, admitted to having served with the Marines and appeared “to be a mercenary”.

That person remains in custody pending a judicial process, Chavez said at Tuesday’s press conference.


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