Germany gives cargo checks all clear

2010-11-11 17:06

Berlin - Germany gave its cargo security checks the all clear on Thursday despite a parcel bomb from Yemen passing through Cologne and another from Greece arriving at Angela Merkel's chancellery.

Random checks this week on cargo firms across the country found several x-ray machines needing minor repairs but no "serious defects" in security procedures overall, the transport ministry said in a statement.

"Clearly, checks in the country of origin failed or were not properly carried out," it said. "We need better European co-operation and uniform standards in order to guarantee air cargo security more effectively."

The parcel bomb that passed through Cologne in late October was hidden in a printer ink cartridge. It was removed from an aircraft at East Midlands Airport in Britain after a tip-off from Saudi Arabian intelligence officials.

British police said on Wednesday it was timed to explode over the eastern seaboard of the United States.

The bomb was one of two packages sent from Yemen and addressed to synagogues in Chicago containing the hard-to-detect explosive PETN. The other package was discovered at Dubai airport.

No agreement on airport blacklist

The plot was later claimed by al-Qaeda's Yemen-based branch.

On November 2, a parcel bomb from Greece was seized at the offices of Merkel in Berlin and made safe. Several other devices were sent to foreign embassies in Athens in a suspected far-left extremist plot.

Another intended for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was found on board a courier plane that had been diverted to Bologna. A two-day ban on deliveries from Greece was imposed.

Germany, France, Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands unilaterally decided to ban all air freight originating from Yemen after the scare.

The European Union failed on Monday to agree on a German proposal to create a blacklist of high-risk airports.