Suspected ship hijackers charged with piracy, kidnapping

The suspected hijackers of the Arctic Sea cargo ship have been officially charged with piracy and kidnapping. Russian investigators say the eight men had been planning for a long time to seize the freighter.

Russia's Investigative Committee spokesman, Vladimir Markin, specified that one of the suspects has been charged with organizing the crime.

The Arctic Sea, along with its fifteen Russian crew members, vanished off the radar at the end of July. It sparked an international search before being found in the Atlantic by the Russian navy almost three weeks later, on August 16.

The ship’s mysterious journey has provoked much speculation about what it may have been carrying. Some reports claimed there was more than timber on board, and that the cargo vessel may have been smuggling weapons.

An initial search found nothing suspicious, but Russian officials say they will conduct a more detailed examination when the freighter, which has been impounded, arrives in the country. The ship is now heading for the southern Russian port of Novorossiysk.