Zimbabwe arrests crew of US cargo plane after body found on board

Zimbabwean police have arrested six crew members of a US cargo plane after a body was found on board, police said Monday.

The body was believed to belong to a stowaway, said the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), for which the plane was carrying a "consignment."

The MD-11 aircraft of Florida-based Western Global Airlines left Munich late Saturday en route to Durban, South Africa, said Florian Steuer, a spokesman for the German airport.

He could not confirm if a stopover was planned in Harare, where Zimbabwean authorities say the plane landed for refuelling on Sunday.

It was not clear what the plane was transporting, but Zimbabwean police sources said it had large amounts of South African rand on board.

The crew were arrested after a male body was discovered on the plane and the crew were unable to produce documents to account for its presence, according to Zimbabwean police and aviation officials.

Police sources said the body was dripping with blood.

South Africa's ambassador to Zimbabwe, Vusi Mavimbela, said the crew had "professed ignorance" on how the body got on the plane. Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said the authorities were investigating that.

Zimbabwean Transport Minister Joram Gumbo said Zimbabwe and South Africa were handling the case at a diplomatic level.

Mavimbela said the crew included two South African employees of the country's reserve bank who were accompanying the consignment. The nationalities of the other crew members were not clear.

"The SARB is working with the relevant authorities to ensure that the cargo is released and transported to South Africa," said Pradeep Maharaj, an executive of the reserve bank, in a statement.

Western Global Airlines told dpa that "the situation is under review" and that a statement would be released as soon as "the facts are known."

The body was taken for autopsy, Charamba said.

"It is safe to wait for the case to go to court on Monday or Tuesday. Details will be clearer then," Home Affairs Minister Ignatious Chombo told dpa.

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 17:25
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