ATHENS (Jun. 7)
A court in the port city of Patras dismissed charges Tuesday against a British truck driver arrested there in April for illegally transporting parts of an alleged Iraqi “super-cannon.”
Paul Ashwell, 26, a British citizen, was released by the court of the Council on Misdemeanors on grounds of insufficient evidence and will be allowed to return to England.
The $30,000 bail posted for him by a British newspaper will be returned, as will his truck. It was seized by customs authorities in Patras, on the Peloponnesian Peninsula, when Ashwell drove off a car ferry from Brindisi in southeastern Italy.
The truck’s cargo, a 29.5-ton steel pipe, was alleged to be the barrel of a giant cannon Iraq had manufactured in Britain, capable of hurling missiles at Israel or Iran. The Iraqis insisted it was oil pipeline equipment.
Attempts to ship it to Iraq by sea were stymied earlier this year when British authorities refused to allow the pipe to be loaded at a North Sea port. The Iraqis then decided to send it overland, via Europe and Turkey.
But the truck was said to have been under surveillance by the Israeli secret service, Mossad, which allegedly tipped off the Greek authorities.