Libyan military forces of Libya Dawn, loyal to the General National Congress (GNC), have detained 12 crew members who were sailing under a Russian flag, Moscow has launched an investigation on this matter. A senior government official accused the crew of attempting to smuggle oil from Libya illegally.
The Mekhanic Chebotarev, the tanker which was seized, was carrying five million litres of gasoline, it was seized in the Mediterranean Sea, just off the coast of the city of Zuwara by Libya Dawn forces. Captain Taoufeek Mohammed Assakir, the Operations Chief for central Libya told AFP “We received a signal on the presence of a ship transporting an illegal cargo of petrol near Zuwara, 160km west of the capital city, Tripoli.”
As the ship was seized, the 12 crew members, including one woman were taken to Tripoli to be interrogated on the reason for their presence in Libya. Moscow has demanded the release of all of their nationals. They have also launched an investigation on this issue.
The company that owns the ship, Oil Marine Group, said in a statement “the media allegations that the vessel was smuggling oil from one of Libya’s ports are groundless, the ship was empty. The arrest is illegal”