GIBRALTAR FREES IRAN TANKER
16th Aug 2019
All 24 Indian crew aboard VLCC Grace 1, an Iranian oil tanker, have been released by Gibraltar authorities and are free to return to India, Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan said on Thursday. In a tweet, Muraleedharan said: "Spoke to our High Commission in London. They confirmed all 24 Indian crew aboard VLCC Grace 1 have been released by Gibraltar authorities and are free to return to India." "I am grateful and thankful for my release. And I am grateful to all who have facilitated my release in my legal team," the Captain of the Grace 1 tanker said in a statement. A spokesman for Gibraltar's government also confirmed that police proceedings against four members of the crew had ended. The arrested Indian crew members - the Master, Chief Officer and two Second Mates - were aboard the Panama-flagged supertanker that was detained off Europa Point in Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory on the Spanish coast, last month. The Gibraltar authorities had said the vessel is loaded to capacity with crude oil enroute to Syria, in breach of European Union (EU) sanctions. But after a hearing in Gibraltar on Thursday, the local Supreme Court of the region ruled that the tanker should be released after formal written assurances from Iran that the ship would not discharge its cargo in Syria and therefore not be in breach of EU sanctions. A total of 28 crew on board the vessel include majority Indians but also Russians, Latvians and Filipinos, who had spent over a month in detention on board the ship since it was seized in early July. They should now be able to sail on to a destination agreed with Iran and the owner of the tanker - the National Iranian Oil Company. 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