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Georgia Jails Turkish Ship Captain for 24 Years
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 1 Sep.'09 / 11:51

Georgian court sentenced on August 31 a captain of a Turkish cargo vessel, which was seized by the Georgian coast guard in mid-August for unauthorized entry into the Abkhaz ports, to 24-year prison term, according to the Georgian Border Police.

The court found guilty Turkish citizen, Mehmet Coskun Öztürk, of smuggling and violation of Georgia’s law on occupied territories, which bans any economic activities in breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia without Tbilisi’s consent.

The Turkish cargo vessel, Buket, was detained by the Georgian coast guard while it was transporting 2,000 tones of petrol and 700 tones of diesel fuel from Turkey to the Abkhaz capital Sokhumi.

The Georgian Border Police also said on August 31 that the vessel and its cargo “was confiscated under the court’s decision.” 

A former captain of Buket, Azerbaijani citizen Ilgar Imanverdiev was also arrested by the Georgian Border Police for the same charges. The Georgian side said that Buket entered the Abkhaz ports in the past when Imanverdiev was the vessel’s captain. Imanverdiev, now a captain of another ship, was arrested August 24 when his current ship was docked in Batumi port.

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