Suspected Syrian ‘terrorist stowaways’ to appear before magistrates in Faro

Young men removed from cargo ship Vestvind in police operation

The 10-day long drama of what to do with two ‘uncooperative’ Syrian stowaways – identified by the Syrian government as wanted terrorists – was resolved in part yesterday morning, when both young men were removed by police from cargo vessel Vestwind off the coast of Faro.

The men, aged 23 and 24, are expected to go before magistrates for initial questioning, and a decision on what to do next with them.

According to early reports, both are in need of medical attention, one urgently. This has not been referred to in recent reports, which stress their ‘non-cooperative attitude’ and increasing threats to the crew and integrity of the Vestvind itself.

During the sea passage between Izium, in Turkey – where the men boarded the vessel – and Portuguese territorial waters, the ship’s captain repeatedly requested assistance to remove the men, but this was constantly refused by “different countries”, explains the statement issued by PJ police after boarding the boat yesterday, in the company of Maritime counterparts, and taking charge of the stowaways.

The reason this responsibility fell to authorities in Portugal is that the Vestvind sails under a Portuguese flag, albeit it is owned by a German company.

According to the PJ statement, substantial evidence was collected from the ship to substantiate indictment “for the practice of crimes of attack to the security of transport by water, illegal introduction in a place closed to the public, aggravated threat and illegal stay in national territory”.

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