Detention ends, Malayali sailors to reach home on June 10

The government of Equatorial Guinea has imposed a penalty of 2 million euros on the shipping company for illegal entry into its waters.

Published: 10th June 2023 08:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th June 2023 08:07 AM   |  A+A-

Guided-missile destroyer USS Cole is seen as its sailors transfer control of a stateless fishing vessel to the Yemen Coast Guard in the Gulf of Oman, Jan. 21, 2022

Image used for representational purpose only. (Photo | AP)

By Express News Service

KOCHI: After spending nearly 10 months in detention, the three Malayali sailors who were among the 26 crew members of seized crude oil tanker MT Heroic Idun will reach home on Saturday. The sailors departed to their hometowns from Cape Town in South Africa. 

The 26-member crew, comprising 16 Indians – three of them Keralites – eight Sri Lankans, besides a Polish and a Filipino, were first detained in Equatorial Guinea in August 2022 and moved to Nigeria in November.

Chief officer Captain Sanu Jose from Elamkulam, Milton De Coth from Mulavukadu in Kochi and V Vijith from Kollam are the Keralites who will land at Kochi airport at 1.30 pm on Saturday, said MP Hibi Eden. 

Nigerian authorities had detained the vessel on disputed charges of ‘oil theft’ in Nigeria. The vessel’s owner, the Union government, as well as various maritime organisations, had been negotiating an early settlement and release of the crew. After a few adjournments between January and April, the court on April 28 ordered the release of the crew and the oil tanker.

Hibi had raised the matter in the Parliament seeking the Centre’s assistance in releasing the Indian sailors. “Upon hearing about the ship’s detention, our missions in Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria contacted local authorities and OSM, the shipping company, and offered all consular services to ensure the safety and welfare of the Indian crew members,” Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan had said.

The government of Equatorial Guinea has imposed a penalty of 2 million euros on the shipping company for illegal entry into its waters. The fine has been paid.

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