The Indian crew members detained in connection with an investigation into an Iranian oil supertanker seized by Royal Gibraltar Police are “safe and well’ and in contact with consular officials on the vessel, the Indian High Commission in London said on Thursday. “Three consular officials had meetings with the crew on the high seas on Wednesday. They are safe and well and remain in contact with their families, the Indian High Commission said in a statement in London on Thursday.
"Further meetings are planned this week with Gibraltar officials. All help will be extended to the Indian nationals, the statement noted.
The Gibraltar authorities have claimed that the vessel is loaded to capacity with crude oil enroute to Syria, in breach of the European Union (EU) sanctions and confirmed that the next hearing in the case is scheduled for August 15.
A Gibraltar government statement reads: “The detention of the vessel relates to the suspected destination of the cargo, the Banyas refinery in Syria, which is owned by a company, the Banyas Oil Refinery Company. This company is the subject of European Union sanctions under EU Regulation 36/2012, which is directly applicable in Gibraltar,”
“The investigations of the Royal Gibraltar Police continue and the vessel remains detained under an Order of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Gibraltar,” it said.
It said that after receiving the results of comprehensive laboratory testing, it had been confirmed that “the Very Large Crude Carrier, the Grace 1 is loaded to capacity with crude oil.
Iran had called for the UK to release its oil tanker and warned Britain not to get involved in “this dangerous game”, which eventually led to Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Gulf last week.
Tehran blames the US for arranging to have its ship seized in the wake of sanctions imposed against Iran with the aim of halting all its oil exports. European countries do not have sanctions against Iran but have had them in place against Iran’s ally Syria since 2011.