Container ship captain charged for transporting Singapore armoured troop carriers without a licence
An investigation by Hong Kong customs authorities found the Singapore government was not responsible for the incident
The captain of the container ship that transported nine Singapore military vehicles to Hong Kong from Taiwan in November was formally charged on Friday morning.
In his first court appearance, mainland ship master Pan Xuejun, 39, was charged with one count of importing strategic commodities without the necessary licence.
Prosecutors alleged that Pan’s vessel carried into Hong Kong nine vehicles designed or modified for military use under a sea waybill, but did not have an import licence issued by the director general of trade and industry.
The nine Terrex armoured troop carriers, which were bound for Singapore from the Taiwanese port of Kaohsiung after a military training exercise, was the biggest impounding of strategic commodities in Hong Kong in two decades.
The captain was not required to enter a plea before acting principal magistrate So Wai-tak and was released on bail of HK$50,000 with his case adjourned to May 19, when the case will be transferred to the District Court.
Assistant director of public prosecutions Bianca Cheng said prosecutors were planning to combine Pan’s case with that of another defendant.
She did not say who the other defendant was, but the government has said it would prosecute the shipping company, APL.
It comes after a spokesman for the Hong Kong customs department said on Wednesday that investigations had unearthed sufficient evidence to prove a breach of the strategic control system.
The incident was widely seen as a warning from Beijing over the ongoing military ties between Singapore and Taiwan – which China considers a renegade province.
Beijing said it hoped Singapore had “learned a lesson” from the incident, and urged the city state to respect the one-China policy.
In January, Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the Lion City’s military had learned a lesson from the saga.
After completing its investigation into the incident in January, the Hong Kong customs department concluded that the Singapore government was not responsible.
Under Hong Kong’s Import and Export Ordinance, a licence is required to ship any strategic commodities. The maximum penalty for failing to obtain a licence is an unlimited fine and seven years imprisonment.