The Royal Gibraltar Police has arrested the captain and the chief officer of Grace 1, a very large crude carrier (VLCC) detained in Gibraltar last week.
As informed, this action followed a “protracted search” of the vessel where documents and electronic devices have been seized and examined.
The police confirmed that the two men*, both Indian nationals, were interviewed due to a suspected violation of European Union sanctions against Syria. However, local media reported that neither of them has been charged.
On July 4, Gibraltar authorities and British Navy’s Royal Marine detained the 300,000 dwt vessel believed to have been carrying crude oil to Syria.
Laboratory tests confirmed that Grace 1 had 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil on board, Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, said in a statement.
“We are acutely conscious of the environmental issues that arise from the type of cargo that is held about Grace 1. There are obvious inherent risks in the maintenance of such a cargo, all of which are being skilfully mitigated by the Gibraltar Port Authority, both as to security and all other relevant concerns.”
As explained, the origin of the cargo onboard the ship has not been relevant at all to Gibraltar’s actions.
“We have no desire, right or obligation to do anything other than enforce the existing sanctions against the Syrian regime, as we are bound and legally required to do by EU regulation 36/2012,” the statement further reads.
* Two more crewmembers of Grace 1 were subsequently arrested, according to a police statement. All four men have been soon released.