The Minister of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday informed that all 24 Indian crew members of the VLCC Grace 1, an Iranian oil supertanker, were freed of all charges levelled by the authorities in Gibraltar. As reported by the news agency PTI, the Indian captain of the Grace 1 tanker said, he is thankful to the administration for his and his mates’ release. He said he is grateful to the legal team who fought and rescued them.
The Gibraltar government, after the hearing later today, said, the US Department of Justice has filed a plea to seize the VLCC Grace 1 in light of several allegations, which will be considered and the matter will return to the apex court.
Confirming the news on Twitter, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said he had a word with the High Commission on VLCC Grace 1 and got to know that all 24 Indians abroad have been released by Gibraltar authorities and will soon return back 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
The Gibraltar government confirmed that all police proceedings against 4 members of the crew have now ended.
As per the reports, the Gibraltar police and British special forces had held 24 Indian crew members last month at Europa Point in Gibraltar who were carrying 2.1 million barrels of Iranian oil in the supertanker. The crew members were held over charges of provoking a diplomatic crisis.
The Gabrial authorities reportedly also had levelled the charges and had suspected that the supertanker was carrying oil to war-ravaged Syria in violation of Europian Union and the United States sanctions.