Gibraltar obtains order extending detention of Iranian tanker by 14 days

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Gibraltar said on Friday it had obtained an order extending the detention of the Iranian Grace I supertanker by 14 days because there were grounds to believe it was breaking sanctions by taking oil to Syria.

“The Supreme Court has issued today’s order on the basis that there are reasonable grounds to consider that the detention of the Grace 1 is required for the purposes of compliance with the EU Regulation 36/2012 on sanctions on Syria,” the government of the British overseas territory on the southern tip of Spain said in a statement.

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Spain said on Thursday that the detention followed a request by the US.

However, the spokesman of the British overseas territory denied it on Friday and said Gibraltar had acted independently.

Authorities in Gibraltar were conducting a probe to determine the origin and destination of the seized Grace 1 tanker. Initial evidence had shown that it was laden with Iranian light crude oil destined to a refinery included in the EU’s sanction list against the Syrian regime.

Iranian authorities criticized the detention. On Friday, a former leader of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said the Islamic Republic should consider responding by seizing a British oil tanker.

A spokesman for the government of Gibraltar said that authorities were conducting investigations aboard the large tanker detained on Thursday for allegedly carrying Iranian oil to Syria, but that no arrests have been made so far.

The spokesman, who asked not to be identified by name, said on Friday that all 28 crew members remained on the vessel while being interviewed as witnesses and not questioned under criminal procedures.

The crew was made of mainly Indian, Pakistani and Ukrainian nationals, he said.