After a year at sea, 13 Indian sailors aboard the Bahamian-flagged tanker MT Strovolos face deportation after being arrested. The tanker was suspected of transporting stolen crude worth $ 21 million.
13 Indians were part of the 19-member crew of MT Strovolos, according to media reports. It was carrying nearly 300,000 barrels of crude from Cambodia’s leading oil company and first seized by the Indonesian Navy in July.
The tanker was chartered by KrisEnergy (Apsara) Co. Ltd. and received the oil from the Apsara oil field in the Gulf of Thailand.
The Cambodian government contracted KrisEnergy as part of a commercial oil development project and gave it the right to sell the oil against payment of royalties.
However, the KrisEnergy group encountered financial difficulties and was unable to meet its obligations during the charter, including payment for the vessel’s fuel supply, World Tankers Management said. KrisEnergy and the management of the oil company have terminated the charter as a result, he said.
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Last week, a court sentenced the captain of the tanker, a Bangladeshi national, to 15 days in prison and fined 100 million rupees ($ 7,000) after convicting him of anchoring the tanker on Indonesian territory without permission.
The operator of the seized tanker protested against the detention of his crew, calling it a violation of human rights.
Indian sailors on board said they were only carrying out their duties and had no role in the contract between the shipowner, the charterer or the Cambodian government.
âThey first detained the ship after the Cambodian government issued the Interpol Red Notice on July 24 … The ship’s captain has been arrested. We haven’t seen him for two months, âsaid Bhanu Pratap Singh, an installer on the ship. The new Indian express.
Singh told the publication that KrisEnergy denied the crew food and water in Cambodian waters and said he went bankrupt. âAs a result, we were asked to go to Thailand to change crew. The crew change did not take place and we were asked to go to the Indonesian port. On the way to Indonesia, our ship was intercepted by the Indonesian navy on July 27, âhe added.
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Under the threat of possible deportation to Cambodia, the sailors asked the Indian government for help for their release.
The spokesperson for World Tankers Management said the Cambodian government had not provided any evidence to the owners regarding its claims. Meanwhile, KrisEnergy is not ready to cede the Cargo to Combodia as this would violate its property rights.
Manoj Yadav, Forward Seamen’s Union of India, requested the intervention of the Minister of Ports, Navigation and Waterways on September 26 to assist in the release of the crew.
(With contributions from the agency)
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