Friday 17 January 2020

Iran-run Grace 1 supertanker requires repairs that may delay its departure: Lawyer

The Iran-operated Grace 1 supertanker needs repairs, which may delay the vessel’s departure after Gibraltar’s Supreme Court confirmed the release of the vessel, according to a lawyer representing the ship’s captain.

As Reported by Qods News Agency (Qodsna) Richard Wilkinson, which also represents a number of the ship's other previously detained crew members, made the announcement while speaking to the Associated Press on Friday.


Wilkinson said that the tanker had been due for repairs in Gibraltar before its seizure but the ordeal had hindered the replacement of certain parts.


The lawyer added that the tanker was currently unfit for an immediate long voyage, casting doubt about the possibility of a speedy departure.


The remarks come as live reports on Friday showed the vessel had begun shifting its position, with more smoke rising from the vessel's chimney than in previous days.


The vessel’s anchor, however, had reportedly not been hoisted.


On Thursday, Gibraltar’s Supreme Court ruled to release the tanker despite Washington's last-minute request to seize the vessel earlier in the day.


Following the court’s verdict, Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo said the vessel is “able to leave as soon as she organizes the logistics necessary in order to sail a ship of that size wherever it's going next.”


Deputy Head of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization Jalil Eslami said on Friday that the vessel was preparing to set sail.


No further details about the timing of the anticipated departure have been released.


Gibraltar’s Chief Minister has, nonetheless, said the US bid to seize the tanker could still “go back to the court,” signifying that the release of Grace 1 may be hampered under US pressure.


Gibraltar says Iran-operated "Grace 1" supertanker has been allowed to leave Friday but a last-minute legal bid by the US to seize the vessel could still end up back in court.


Gibraltar, which is under British rule, claimed to have seized the tanker last month on alleged suspicion that the vessel was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of the European Union’s unilateral sanctions on the

Arab country.


Consisting of an irregular imposition of EU regulations on a non-EU member state, the measure was vehemently condemned by Tehran as being an act of “maritime piracy" done at the request of Washington.


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