'Laden' gets trucker in trouble

| 11/7/2001

A truckdriver from Germany was held more than 10 hours over the weekend by Italian police after finding a suspicious word in his otherwise ordinary paperwork. What word could cause such a fuss? "Laden."

The German trucker was headed from Italy to Switzerland when he was stopped as part of a massive operation to inspect commercial vehicles that authorities fear may be carrying explosives for use in an attack ordered by accused terrorist Osama bin Laden.

The trucker handed over his German-language documents to police and everything appeared to be in order. Until the word "laden" was discovered in the paperwork, according to published reports. He was immediately hauled in for questioning.

While the driver was questioned, police called in explosives experts, a team of sniffer dogs and specialist anti-mafia and terrorism police who surrounded and sealed off the suspect truck.

After hours of searching for the word's meaning, police discovered it is German for "load" and the whole phrase on the driver's travel document stated he was carrying a load of wine. The trucker, who didn't speak Italian and was apparently unable to communicate with officers, was immediately released.