TALLINN - The Swedish television channel TV4 has published information on its Web site that ships plying between Estonia and Sweden continue to transport military equipment, even after the ferry Estonia disaster in 1994. According to the private TV channel's Web site, military electronics are occasionally transported between Sweden and Estonia. In the winter of 2003, Swedish customs detained an Estonian van that was about to board a ferry to Tallinn at the Frimhamnen Port in Stockholm.
The vehicle carried military electronic equipment, which the driver did not have a permit for, TV4 reported.
Normally, the van could have passed through customs without a check-up, but on this occasion officers were not prepared for the vehicle's arrival. Therefore, officials detained the driver for questioning and impounded his van. In the end, defense forces ordered clearance for the van, which then continued its ferry journey to Tallinn.
Estonians are especially sensitive to the news since recent moves were made to re-investigate what caused the Estonia ferry to sink on Sept. 28, 1994. More than 800 people died during the tragedy.
On May 29, Parliament's constitutional committee supported a proposal to extend the credentials of a parliamentary group looking into whether military hardware was aboard the Estonia when it sank. The credentials would be extended from July 1 to Nov. 15, although the decision is not yet final.
Margus Leivo, chairman of the committee investigating the disaster, said there were three main reasons for extending the credentials.
First, he said, the pace of work was relatively slow, and the committee had not yet managed to interview all those originally planned. Secondly, new circumstances had surfaced: According to the Swedish press, an agreement on transporting military hardware was signed as early as 30 months before the Estonia sank. Finally, the committee wants to wait for the results of a legal analysis concerning an agreement signed by Estonia, Finland and Sweden in 1995 to leave the ferry's wreckage "in peace." The committee would like to know whether it's possible to send divers down to the site to look for any military hardware.