Latvian pirate sentenced to prison, fingers Estonian mastermind

  • 2010-06-15
  • Oskars Magone

Kross, a former spy chief, was accussed of being the mastermind of the highjacking. He has denied all allegations.

MOSCOW - Latvian native Dmitry Savins has been to seven years in a high-security prison for leading a pirate attack that involved highjacking "the Arctic Sea", a Russian cargo vessel, in 2009.

The Arctic Sea went missing on July 24 last year shortly after passing through the English Channel on its way to Algeria with a shipment of lumber.  Savins is the second defendant in the case to fully admit his guilt to the Moscow-area court. Earlier, Andrei Lunev also pleaded guilty to the hijacking and was sentenced to five years.

In a plea bargain, Savins pointed to Eerik-Niiles Kross, the former head of Estonia's foreign intelligence service and now a prominent local businessman, as the mastermind behind the attack.

“I don’t know how I can prove this, but the organiser was an Estonian businessman Eerik-Niiles Kross, a former civil servant, who lives in Estonia,” Savins said, according to the news agency Interfax.

Kross has denied all charges, claiming that the allegations are an attempt to taint his reputation. He said the allegations may be connected to his ties with Georgia.

Stavins says that he and Kross were old acquaintances and business partners before the current economic crisis, and that Kross asked Savins to take part in the hijacking, because of his seafaring experience.

The Latvian said he had been offered 200,000 euros for his role as leader of the highjacking operation, while the other members of his gang expected to received 20,000 euros for their roles.