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Captain charged, Gaza aid workers released

Captain charged with kidnapping, Gaza aid workers released

by Julie Webb-Pullman

The two Irish, seven British and an Algerian national kidnapped last Wednesday, 10 November by the owner/captain of the “Strofades IV” ship were released from custody in Greece on Sunday, while the captain has been arrested by Greek authorities, and will be charged on Monday.

Those kidnapped were all members of the Road to Hope convoy (1) delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza, hot on the heels of the Viva Palestina convoy in which New Zealand organisation Kia Ora Gaza took part.

The Road to Hope humanitarian aid convoy left London on the 10th of October with £500,000 of medical aid, before becoming bogged down in Libya by Egytpian refusal to permit them to travel overland through Egypt into Gaza

The ship is the same as that used by the Viva Palestina convoy, which also had difficulties with the ship-owner.

Leyla-Rubaina Hyda of Road to Hope said thismorning that the convoyers have been released by the Greek police but they must wait for offices to open on Monday before they can leave. They are not yet sure whether they can return to Libya. She said the the video providing the evidence that enabled the charges to be laid against the Greek captain and owner of the ship can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHS7W2qb-cg

Ms Hyda said that one vehicle had to be left on the ship, but they managed to get all of the aid it was carrying out of it. The rest of the vehicles, and aid, are still in Libya but many of the convoyers have had to reteurn home.

Concerned people from around the world are now stepping up to offer their assistance to ensure the aid gets through to Gaza, with many now questioning Egypt's claim that the gates of Rafah are open.

In a Press Release dated 12 November (2) convoy leader and survivor of the Mavi Marmara massacre Ken O’Keefe said “We have spent the past two weeks in Libya trying to get our aid through Egypt by land to Gaza. Instead we were compelled to enter complex negotiations with shipping agents who appear to have had some kind of falling-out with the ship owner – with no apparent concern for the suffering being experienced in Gaza. This begs the question why land access is not possible into Egypt for Gaza?”

Indeed.

To offer assistance to ensure the convoy completes its journey, contact Road to Hope through their website below.

(1) http://roadtohope.co.uk/
(2) http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/11/14/road-to-hope-convoy-to-gaza-members-kidnapped/

*************

Julie Webb-Pullman (click to view previous articles) is a New Zealand based freelance writer who has reported for Scoop since 2003. She was selected to be part of the Kiwi contingent on the Viva Palestina Convoy - a.k.a. Kia Ora Gaza. Send Feedback to julie@scoop.co.nz

ENDS

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