Hijacked vessel's cargo 'up for sale'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 June, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 June, 1997, 12:00am

Local authorities are said to be preparing to sell the cargo of a hijacked ship which has been held in a mainland port for 21 months.

The Cypriot-flagged Anna Sierra, belonging to an Indian state trading firm, put into Beihai, Guangxi, after the hijack off Vietnam in 1995.

The freighter, carrying sugar worth US$4 million (HK$30.9 million), was impounded and the hijackers arrested.

Jayant Abhyankar, deputy director of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) of the International Chamber of Commerce, said: 'We have a representative who has learned of deals being struck.' The Beihai Public Security Bureau was said to have agreed to sell the cargo to a private buyer after rejecting a better offer from a government trading firm.

The IMB has been campaigning against China's detention of the freighter, saying it violated international maritime laws.

Mr Abhyankar said the IMB appealed to the International Maritime Court in Guangzhou to return the cargo to its rightful owner.

A court ruling in favour of the IMB was rejected by the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau.

'The security bureau said it did not recognise the court's authority,' said Mr Abhyankar.

The IMB is now appealing to the Public Security Ministry to stop the sale.

IMB director Pottengal Mukundan said: 'If the ministry condones this act we have to conclude this has been a conspiracy to steal the cargo.'