KIEV, July 23 (Itar-Tass) - Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has condemned the seizure of a commercial ship with a Ukrainian crew in Libya as a heinous crime to which the incumbent Libyan government has not reacted in any way.
Gennady Latiy, the Foreign Ministry’s special envoy to the Middle East and Africa, said this Tuesday at a meeting with the Libyan Charge d’Affairs in Ukraine, Al-Hadi Asba.
The commercial ship Etel waving the flag of St Kitts and Nevis was detained in the port of Benghazi more than two weeks ago.
The Foreign Ministry’s press service said Gennady Latiy demanded an immediate release of the 19-strong crew in compliance with the norms of international law, ensuring of security for the Ukrainian citizens, and appropriate official explanation for the incident from the Libyan side.
Yevgeny Perebeinos, the director of the Foreign Ministry’s information department said earlier in the day that the Ukrainian law enforcement agencies had instituted a criminal case over the shipment of cars by the Ukrainian crew.
“As for the claim that the ship was carrying cars, according to the information we have the law enforcement agencies have instituted a criminal case,” he said.
Perebeinos confirmed the ship had called into the port of Odessa with a consignment of cars earlier this year and an inquiry into the situation is currently underway.
He recalled the Libyan business community’s claims that the ship was to haul the cars from Jordan’s Red Sea port of Aqaba to Libya but the cars were ostensibly transshipped in Odessa and never reached the Libyan customers.
The Ukrainian seamen are in a satisfactory condition, Perebeinos said, adding: “They have all the necessary things including potable water and talks with the Libyan side on release of the ship continue.”
A group of armed people seized The Etel July 7 in the port of Benghazi. The Libyans are ready to set the seamen free if get $ 9.5 million.
Unofficial sources say this is the cost of the cars that were to be delivered from Jordan.