Iranian tanker, Panamanian ship released after Indonesia trial
Indonesia has released an Iranian oil tanker and a Panamanian ship both of which were seized earlier this year on suspicion of illegal oil transfers, officials said on Saturday.
Following legal action, the tankers – Iranian-flagged MT Horse and Panamanian-flagged MT Freya – left Indonesia on Friday, the spokesman for the country’s Maritime Security Agency said.
The captains of the two tankers were found guilty last Tuesday of entering Indonesian territory without a permit.
Iranian MT Horse captain Mehdi Monghasemjahromi and Chinese MT Freya captain Chen Yoqun were each given a one-year suspended prison sentence with a two-year probation period. The court also ordered Chen to pay a fine of 2 billion rupees (US $ 140,000) for illegally dumping oil into Indonesian waters.
The two captains were released from detention and reportedly left Indonesia with the rest of the crew on Friday despite their sentencing.
In January, the tankers were spotted off Kalimantan, the Indonesian section of the island of Borneo, and were later seized after the crew did not respond to radio calls.
The Indonesian Maritime Safety Agency or Bakamla claimed the crew were suspected of a series of violations, including failing to display ships’ national flags, turning off their identification systems to avoid detection and to illegally transfer oil.
The MT Horse “was released after 125 days after the conclusion of the court proceedings,” Iranian state-run news agency IRNA reported, citing a statement by the National Iranian Oil Co.
“Despite the continuing challenges and the isolation of their families, the crew made sacrifices to defend national interests and keep the country’s oil and petroleum exports flowing,” the statement added.
Iran has previously been accused of trying to cover up its oil sales to avoid crippling US sanctions.
In October, the administration of former US President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on the Iranian oil sector for its sales to countries, including Syria and Venezuela.