Icelandic captain charged with conspiracy to import cocaine


A case in which an Icelandic captain is charged with conspiracy to import cocaine into Ireland is thought to be the first drugs case of its kind to be heard in the Irish courts.

The cargo ship, the Tia, sailed from south America without its cargo of timber on October 8th, bound for Rathmullen, Co Donegal. Because of bad weather and the loss of its rudder, it was forced to anchor off Castletownbere, Co Cork, on November 5th, 1996.

Mr Sigurdur Anngrimsson, the ship's captain, pleaded not guilty in Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday to the conspiracy charge.

Mr Ralph Sutton SC, prosecuting, said conspiracy was when two or more people combined to do something unlawful. There would be evidence that the defendant and others had combined for the purpose of importing cocaine into Ireland.

The Tia first came to the notice of the authorities on November 5th, 1996, and it has taken a long time for the case to come to trial.

The authorities had suspicions relating to the vessel and decided to board it when it arrived in the port. It was searched i, Naval and customs officers but there was nothing on board, neither drugs nor cargo.

Mr Sutton claimed that, while the Tia was in south America, Mr Anngrimsson ordered that openings be made in the ballast tanks under the cargo hold. "There will be evidence there was ample space in this area to accommodate the storage of drugs and you will also have evidence that there was considerable talk about drugs being loaded on board the ship."

He said the ship sailed from south America without its cargo on October 8th and stopped in the Azores for fuel, leaving there on October 29th for Donegal. "There was a plan to import on this ship a very large quantity of cocaine which, while not large in bulk, was large in strength."

The trial continues today.