Iran to prosecute UK soldiers for ''straying'' into territorial waters
Iran is to prosecute eight British soldiers arrested for allegedly straying into Iranian territorial waters close to the Iraqi border, Al-Alam television reported quoting Iranian military sources.
"They are going to be prosecuted for illegally entering Iranian territorial waters. They were 1,000 metres inside Iranian territorial waters," said the Arabic-language satellite channel, a branch of Iran's state television.
The station said the soldiers, who were detained Monday and whose three boats were also seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guards, had already "confessed" to having entered Iranian waters.
"Their last known indication was to be in the Shatt al-Arab area which is not unusual," said the spokesman.
Earlier, a Royal Navy spokesman at the defence ministry in London called it a "low-level incident", saying the three small boats appeared to have "strayed into Iranian territory."
"These boats are used for training Iraqi river patrol service ... what we would call river police," said the spokesman, who was unable to specify if any Iraqis were on board.
"The waterway runs over a mile (1.6 kilometres) wide. The border runs pretty much down the middle of it ... Maybe, it was disputed whose side" of the border the vessels were on, he said.
British armed forces control a large area of southern Iraq around Basra, and along with Iraqi security forces patrol parts of the Shatt al-Arab, mostly to combat smugglers and activists seeking to infiltrate Iraq and join the activities against the US-led occupation. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)