Court told of troop carriers on vessel

Local | Sophie Hui 12 Oct 2018

Customs officers were shocked to discover nine armored troop carriers that could withstand landmine blasts on a ship that docked in Hong Kong, the District Court heard yesterday.

The ship's mainland captain, Pan Xuejun, 40, along with the ocean carrier, APL Co Pte Limited, have pleaded not guilty to importing strategic commodities without a license.

Bomb disposal officers said the vehicles are used for military purposes. They are amphibious and can withstand landmine explosions. Weapons and weapon detection systems can be placed in the vehicles.

They also said each vehicle is equipped with six smoke grenade launchers and two water jets.

In November 2016, Customs officers in a routine check found the nine Terrex armored troop carriers on the cargo ship APL Qatar, which was traveling from Kaohsiung to Singapore when it stopped in Hong Kong.

Yesterday, the prosecution told Justice Stanley Chan Kwong-chi that the APL Qatar docked at the Kwai Chung container terminal. Customs officers carried out a routine check and found a large object covered with a thick canvas on the deck.

The officers were shocked to discover that it was an armored carrier. They later found eight similar containers on the ship. All nine armored carriers did not have import licenses issued by the Director-General of Trade and Industry.

The officers also discovered that the nine military vehicles were not included in the cargo manifests. The shipping company later provided another manifest to customs officials, but it only declared the cargo to be ordinary vehicles.

The Trade and Industry Department received the sea waybill from the shipping company. The waybill showed that the shipper was Taiwan's Armaments Bureau and the consignee was Singapore's Ministry of Defense.

The nine military vehicles were shipped from Kaohsiung on November 20, 2016, and each one weighed 22 tonnes.

According to the information provided by the shipping company, the nine carriers are worth 25.2 million Singapore dollars (HK$136 million). All nine military vehicles were sent back to Singapore on January 26 last year.

The prosecution said Pan admitted the military vehicles were being shipped to Singapore after transiting through Xiamen and Hong Kong.

The hearing was adjourned until Monday.

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