The detained Iranian tanker Grace 1 has finally been released by the Gibraltar authorities, according to the local newspaper Gibraltar Chronicle. The decision to release the ship was taken hours after the US launched a separate last-minute legal move to detain the vessel.
But Chief Justice Anthony Dudley said that there was no US application currently before the court, the local paper reported. "That's not before me," he said. "There are no applications in relation to the US letters of the request (for mutual legal assistance)."
The Iranian oil tanker was detained by British marine officials last month in the UK's overseas territory Gibraltar. The tanker was reportedly carrying Iranian crude to the Baniyas Refinery in Syria supposedly breaching the European Union sanctions.
The Gibraltar Government said it had solid documentary evidence that the vessel was bound for Syria when it was detained after entering British Gibraltar territorial waters. But the Government of Gibraltar has now received formal written assurances from the Iranian government that the ship will not discharge its cargo in Syria. Therefore, Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has decided to lift the detention order and allow the ship to sail.
Authorities in #Gibraltar have released the Iranian supertanker Grace 1, which was seized on July 4 on suspicion it was shipping 2.1m barrels of crude oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.— Gibraltar Chronicle (@GibChronicle) August 15, 2019
All Indian crew on detained Iranian tanker Grace 1 were released on Thursday by the Gibraltar authorities. The Minister of State for External Affairs & Parliamentary Affairs, V. Muraleedharan spoke to Indian High Commission in London and confirmed that all the Indian nationals on the detained Iranian tanker have been released and are free to return to India.
Spoke to our High Commission @HCI_London on VLCC Grace 1. They confirmed all 24 Indian crew aboard VLCC Grace 1 have been released by Gibraltar authorities and are free to return to India. @narendramodi @PMOIndia @AmitShah @DrSJaishankar @MEAIndia @VMBJP— V. Muraleedharan (@MOS_MEA) August 15, 2019
A captain and the other three officers of the detained Iranian oil tanker were released by the authorities in Gibraltar earlier today.
The Gibraltar Chronicle reported earlier today, "The U.S. Department of Justice has applied to seize the Iranian supertanker Grace 1 in Gibraltar, just hours before the Gibraltar Government was poised to release it." The grounds for the US application are not clear but the court was told it was a request from the Department of Justice for mutual legal assistance.
Speaking in court, Chief Justice Anthony Dudley made clear that were it not for the US move, "the ship would have sailed."
"Gibraltar had been due to lift the detention on the ship this morning but the move by the US means the decision has now been adjourned until 4 pm today," the paper stated.
The developments were revealed by Joseph Triay, the lawyer for Attorney General Michael Llamas QC, during a short hearing in the Supreme Court of Gibraltar. Mr. Triay said: "This application was to have taken a very different turn. It was to have been an application for no further order of detention."
The tensions between the UK and Iran started escalating last month when the UK marine officials detained the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 in the UK's overseas territory Gibraltar. The tanker was reportedly carrying Iranian crude to the Baniyas Refinery in Syria supposedly breaching the European Union sanctions.