Turkish Cypriot police discovered 645 guns, of which 318 automatic and 327 rifles, in a container about to be loaded on ‘Rizokarpaso’ cargo vessel in the Famagusta port, Turkish Cypriot press reported on Friday.
Two hundred of the guns are Russian-made Baikals, and the rest Italian-made Benellis, Brownings, Berettas and Winchesters.
The guns, press reports said, had been transported to Famagusta aboard the ‘Morphou’ on July 21st, and remained in a storage facility owned by Port Isbi Ltd until Wednesday.
A man named Ali Kucuk appears to be the owner of the guns, represented by a company named ‘Harun Erhun Karfo Ltd’.
It was discovered that the weapons had been smuggled from the port of Mersin to Famagusta, and police disrupted an operation to return them to Mersin aboard the ‘Rizokarpaso’, in a container half-filled with furniture.
According to daily Halkin Sesi, the guns were due to be transported to one of the Arab countries, while Yeni Duzen reported they were bound for Tunisia.
Speaking to Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis, Erdogan Sadun, owner of Harun Erhun, said that press reports were untrue and claimed that the guns were not smuggled but transported legally.
Kucuk, the alleged owner of the guns, said this was the first time he tried to export guns through the Famagusta port, which incurred great damage for him, and added that due process was followed during departure from Mersin, but he was not told that using Famagusta as a transit port required approval by the so-called ‘cabinet’ in the north of Cyprus.
Turkish Cypriot press raise questions as to why the shipment remained parked in Famagusta for so many days if the port was only a transit stop, and why the quantity listed when the ship arrived to Famagusta was found to have been different to that of the shipment to be exported.
Police in the north appears to have been tipped off by the Famagusta port’s administrative board.