A Georgian captain, who was running a ship under the Moldavian flag, has been detained by French coast guards as 2,3 tonnes of cocaine were found in the ship named as Carib Palm.
Georgian skipper detained as 2,3 tonnes of cocaine found on his ship
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, December 21
Family members of the Georgian captain Vazha Beridze, 56, have addressed Georgia’s Foreign Ministry to assist the man currently detained in the French of City Lille, as he was the only Georgian citizen out of the 13-member crew.
Vazha Beridze’s son, Giorgi Beridze, claimed that his father “had no information” concerning the drugs, which are worth about “half billion Euro,” according to lavoixdunord.fr, an online French media outlet.
G. Beridze stated that his father was negotiating with a Turkish company and dealt with them to bring a newly-purchased ship from the Dominican Republic to Turkey.
“But when my father reached the destitution he phoned me and told there was some other ship, which required repairs and that that the ship should be moved to Poland,” the son said.
G. Beridze claimed that the ship was owned by a Turkish citizen and the crew consisted of his father, as well as one Turkish and 11 Ukrainian citizens.
“My father had no information concerning the drugs. When I phone the owner of the ship, he switches off his phone,” G. Beridze said.
French media announced that the ship had been loaded off Venezuela, before taking the route to Gdansk, Poland.
With regards to the drugs, lavoixdunord.fr stated that the “unprecedented quantity” of drugs was detected by French coast guards when the ship was sailing in French waters near Lille, in a special partition “not indicated in the ship plan”.
The Georgian Embassy in France has stated they have already contacted French law-enforcement bodies, but “they could only gain a little information,” as V. Beridze himself refused to speak to them.
Georgia’s Ambassador to French, Eka Siradze, has stressed that she also had some questions for Beridze, but could not get any responses beyond denials.
“We are trying to get more details," the Ambassador said.
According to French media, the ship was stopped on December 10 near Lille and the all crew members were officially detained for five days.
"In such a situation, a criminal investigation is opened. The arrested can be held for up to 96 hours of police custody,” the French media outlet announced.
The lavoixdunord.fr website also stated that if found guilty, the people might face “life imprisonment.”
For V. Beridze, it was his first voyage as a captain since serving on ships since 1993.