Weapons are ours, says UN

The United Nations yesterday said it owns the weapons found aboard a ship at the Mombasa port.


Some of the 257 UN vehicles bound for Kenya, Uganda, the DRC and South Sudan, that were in a ship seized at the Port of Mombasa last Thursday and found with drugs and weapons. Photo/ELKANA JACOB

In a statement, the UN said its shipping agent was unable to amend the shipping manifest to reflect the cargo, but everything was declared in other legal documents.

“The list with the weapons was provided by the Indian authorities after the vessel sailed from Mumbai. A request was sent by the UN contractor responsible for the shipment to the Mombasa ship agent to amend the manifest but since this was not possible, a declaration of the weapons accompanying the military vehicles was attached,” the statement by spokesman Nasser Ega-Musa said.

He said the guns were part of the UN military vehicles being sent to Indian peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“The weapons found in the shipment by the Kenyan authorities were part of a legitimate and declared Contingent Owner Equipment cargo packed in Mumbai, India, with destination the Indian Battalion of MONUSCO, DRC. The weapons were declared in the bill of lading but not in the manifest. It is normal practice for weapons attached to the APCs to be dismantled and placed inside the carriers in order to avoid damage whilst being shipped,” he said.

He added: “The UN has cooperated fully with the Kenyan authorities and has communicated the above through a Note Verbale to the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is unfortunate that the Kenyan authorities inspected the cargo without a UN presence, which runs contrary to established protocol and provisions surrounding privileges and immunities.”

Security personnel sealed off the port last Thursday night and have been conducting a search of the MV Hoegh Transporter, a Norwegian, Singapore-registered vessel. It is said to have sailed from Norway to Mumbai, where the military cargo was loaded, and on to Mombasa. The equipment was to be transported through Uganda to the DRC.

Sources in the search team told the Star yesterday they found additional weapons, three speed boats, together with axes and wood saws. Automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades were also found.

Another UN officer, who asked not to be identified, said the confusion was likely caused by poor paperwork and there was no real issue of smuggling.

“The weapons you have seen are machine guns which are mounted in the turret of the APCs and the canons which are part of the APCs’ equipment. When APCs are shipped, these things get damaged, which is why they are removed, boxed and put inside the vehicles so that they don’t get damaged,” the officer said.

He denied claims that Shamus Mangan, the Australian UN officer who died mysteriously in a Mombasa hotel, had anything to do with the MV Hoegh Transporter.

“The two incidents are not connected at all. There is no linkage between the ship and the guy. The guy who died in Mombasa died two weeks ago,” he said.

He said Mangan was working for a programme that was installing equipment for the Kenya Prisons Service.

Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet on Thursday said investigations are still on and a report will be released once it is completed.

“Let’s wait until investigations are complete,” he told the Star on phone.

Kenya Revenue Authority officers are taking part in the investigations.