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The Gibraltar government said in a statement Thursday that “the US Department of Justice. UU. He has requested the seizure of Grace [Iranian oil tanker] Grace 1 in a series of accusations that are now being considered.
The statement said “the matter will return to the Supreme Court of Gibraltar at 4 pm”
This occurs after the Gibraltar Chronicle newspaper reported that the US Department of Justice had requested to seize Grace 1, “just a few hours before the Gibraltar Government was ready to release it. The newspaper added that it was Gibraltarian lawyer Joseph Triay who revealed the events.
“This application should have taken a very different turn. It must have been a request not to receive further arrest warrants, ”said Triay.
Commenting on the issue, a Gibraltar government source told the newspaper that a captain and three crew members of the Iranian tanker had already been released.
The Gibraltar Chronicle also quoted the Chief of the Gibraltar Supreme Court, Anthony Dudley, saying that if it had not been for the United States’ request, “the ship [Grace 1] would have sailed.” The United States has yet to comment on the matter.
The events occur after The Sun reported on Wednesday that Gibraltar Prime Minister Fabian Picardo will not request the renewal of the Grace 1 arrest warrant and that the tanker should be released that same day.
“There is no reason to keep Grace 1 in Gibraltar for another moment if we no longer believe that it violates the sanctions against the Syrian regime. That is now the case, so you can expect to see her on her way tomorrow, “said The Sun, citing an unidentified source close to Picardo.
Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 near Gibraltar
The Iranian tanker was stopped by the Gibraltar police, with the support of the British Marines on July 4, on suspicion of transporting oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif criticized the seizure as an act of “pure piracy” that, according to him, “sets a dangerous precedent.”
The capture was followed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps that seized the tanker Stena Impero with the United Kingdom flag in the Gulf for the alleged violation of maritime regulations by the ship.
Seizures of ships occurred amid growing tensions in the Persian Gulf after a previous series of incidents that also involved tankers. In May, four tankers were targeted by sabotage attacks off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. In June, two more tankers were hit by explosions in the Strait of Hormuz, the body of water that connects the Gulf of Oman with the Persian Gulf.
Washington blamed Tehran for the incidents and began to increase its military presence in the Gulf. Tehran has repeatedly denied any irregularities.