All 24 Indian crew members on the Grace 1 Iranian tanker were released after being detained by the Royal Gibraltar Police last month, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said on Thursday.
“Spoke to our High Commission in London on VLCC Grace 1,” he tweeted. “They confirmed that all 24 Indian crew aboard VLCC Grace 1 have been released by Gibraltar authorities and are free to return to India.”
The Gibraltar government also confirmed that the police proceedings against four members had concluded. “I am grateful and thankful for my release,” PTI quoted the captain of the tanker as saying. “And I am grateful to all who have facilitated my release in my legal team.” A total of 28 crew members, including Russians, Latvians and Filipinos, spent a month being detained on board the ship.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court in Gibraltar on Thursday said the Iranian oil tanker should be released although the United States had made a last-minute request to stop it, reported BBC. Chief Justice Anthony Dudley said Iran had given written assurances that the ship would not discharge its cargo in Syria. “There are no longer reasonable grounds to suspect that the detention of the vessel is required,” said Dudley, according to PTI.
The Grace 1 oil tanker was detained by Gibraltar officials with the help of United Kingdom on July 4 for transporting oil to Syria in violation of sanctions by the European Union. Nearly two weeks later, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized a British oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz with 18 Indians on board, who are yet to be released.
After Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had indicated on July 24 that he would release the tanker if the United Kingdom released theirs detained in Gibraltar, Britain had responded saying that they were “not going to barter”.