Nato redirects vessel which left Malta for Tripoli
Malta shall be asking the UN Sanctions Committee for urgent instructions in relation to the redirection by Nato forces of a Maltese-flagged vessel on route to Tripoli from Valletta.
The government said in a statement this evening that the MV Setubal Express obtained clearance to sail to Tripoli from Valletta last Tuesday.
The ship, which is operated by Malta Motorways of the Sea, was carrying cargo, including motor vehicles, clothing, furniture, spare parts, cement, foodstuffs and raw materials (both ro-ro and containerised) following fulfilment of all necessary procedures.
Prior to entering Libyan territorial waters on Thursday, the ship's master received a request from the Nato military vessel HMS Liverpool to board the vessel.
The master cooperated fully and the vessel was boarded by a team of military personnel from HMS Liverpool, who carried out an inspection on all cargo decks and a random inspection of the cargo.
When the inspection was completed, the master was instructed by the Commander of HMS Liverpool not to enter Libya's territorial waters.
The ship operator contacted Naples' Allied Maritime Command to enquire why the vessel was denied permission to proceed with its voyage. However, he was instructed to address the matter to the competent Italian authorities, who could pass it on to the Security Council Sanctions Committee on Libya via Italy's permanent mission to the UN
Yesterday, the matter was brought to attention of the Maltese authorities, who immediately informed the Sanctions Monitoring Board.
The UN permanent representative was requested to liaise with his Italian counterpart on this matter and possibly with the appropriate UN entity for an explanation as to why the vessel was denied permission to proceed with its voyage.
Further information was also requested from the Allied Maritime operations centre.
The Setubal Express is currently 17 nautical miles southwest of Malta awaiting orders.
The Maltese authorities said they will be submitting a detailed communication to the UN Sanctions Committee informing them of the case and asking for urgent direction on the matter.
Malta said it would abide fully by the United Nations Sanctions Committee's guidance.
[Source: Times of Malta, 16Apr11]
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