Gibraltar's chief minister said on Friday July 12th that the British territory took the decision to seize an Iranian oil tanker last week solely because the vessel violated EU sanctions and not at the request of a third party, Reuters has reported.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told the parliament of Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, that the Iranian Grace 1 which was carrying 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil, was seized on suspicion of breaching EU sanctions against Syria.
"The decisions of Her Majesty's government of Gibraltar were taken totally independently, based on breaches of existing law and not at all based on extraneous political considerations," Fabian Picardo said as he addressed the parliament.
"These important decisions about breaches of our laws were not decisions taken at the political behest or instruction of any other state or third party."
Picardo added that anyone who has a claim to the vessel and its cargo can file its claim in court. "We will not allow Gibraltar to be used knowingly or be unknowingly complicit in the breach of EU or other international sanctions."
Police in Gibraltar said on Thursday they had arrested the captain and chief officer of the supertanker and had seized documents and electronic devices.
Iran has demanded that Britain release the ship, denying that it was taking oil to Syria in violation of sanctions. The issue has stepped up the tension between the two countries, with Britain saying on Thursday that it had prevented three Iranian ships from blocking the passage of a British commercial vessel through the Strait of Hormuz.