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Estonian navy chief resigns over contraband scandal

Estonian navy vessels taking part in Nato's Mine Countermeasures Group (November 2016) Image copyright Estonian navy
Image caption The Estonian navy has recently taken part in Nato's Mine Countermeasures Group

The commander of the Estonian navy has resigned after a warship was found to be carrying large quantities of smuggled alcohol and cigarettes.

Sten Sepper said that he took full responsibility for 56 cases of undeclared cigarettes and 1,000 litres of undeclared liquor found on board the Sakala mine-hunter earlier this month.

He will continue to serve as a senior staff officer, local media reported.

The commander of the Sakala is reported to have been transferred to a desk job.

Defence Minister Hannes Hanso said that it was important an Estonian took full responsibility for events within their area of responsibility.

"The navy chief has decided to resign due to the damage to reputation accompanying the unacceptable event, irrespective of where the opened criminal case and official investigation will lead," Mr Hanso was quoted as saying by Estonian Public Broadcasting.

The newspaper said that Capt Sepper will now work as a senior staff officer in the headquarters of the Estonian defence forces.

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The authorities have so far not revealed where the smuggled goods were picked up or where they were being taken.

At the time of their seizure by customs officers, the Sakala was participating in Nato's Mine Countermeasures Group.

On Tuesday Nato accused Russia of "aggressive military posturing" following reports that it has deployed anti-ship missiles in its westernmost Baltic region.

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