As the next hearing of the trial against the crew arrested for oil theft is scheduled for January 11, 2023, Indian and Sri Lankan envoys have met the seafarers, who were detained along with MT Heroic IDUN in Nigeria. Contrary to International Transport Federation (ITF) the crew were subjected to inhuman threatment.
Sri Lanka’s Foreign Affairs Ministry explained that the high commissioners, who met the detainees, said that the Sri Lankan crew members were in excellent health. “The Nigerian Navy is providing adequate security and all assistance on board, including food, medical and recreational facilities,” Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said. It also said that the Sri Lankan High Commissioner met the crew members along with the high commissioners/ diplomats from India, Poland and the Philippines.
It would be recalled that on August 12, authorities of Equatorial Guinea detained 26 crew members, including 16 Indians, eight Sri Lankans, one Pole, and one Filipino, of the large crude carrier on a request by the Nigerian Navy. They were suspected of entering the Nigerian maritime domain on August 7 without clearance.
However, the owners of the Heroic IDUN ship said that the vessel entered Nigeria’s AKPO terminal on August 8 to load cargo of crude oil, but the loading operation was delayed, at night, noting that an unidentified craft claiming to be Nigerian Navy approached the vessel and asked the crew to proceed with them. Unable to identify the craft due to darkness and fearing for the security of the crew, the ship owners said that the vess3l had to sail out of the location at full speed.