Fuel smugglers arrested over disastrous oil spill

Greek authorities have arrested the captain and first engineer of the oil tanker “Lassaia” which had been used to pump some 2,500 tonnes of fuel oil from the tanker “Agia Zoni II” after it sank southwest of Atalanti causing an evironmental disaster.

According to authorities, the two men were charged with violating customs laws on fuel smuggling on Wednesday and will stand trial on Thursday before a Piraeus Misdemeanours Court.

Coast guard sources said the exact quantity of petroleum fuels inside the “Lassaia” has not yet been measured. In the meantime, authorities have arrested the ship’s captain and first engineer for fuel smuggling and they were led before a Piraeus public prosecutor later on Wednesday afternoon.

The “Lassaia” has been confiscated and is now anchored off the coast of Aspropyrgos. The undeclared fuel was discovered during an inspection conducted by coast guard officers with the assistance of customs officials. Another oil tanker is expected to resume pumping to remove remaining oil from the “Agia Zoni II” on Thursday morning.

Responding to the incident, the owner of the “Agia Zoni II” said the company bears no responsibility if the pollution should spread further, “given that it is not yet clearly established, with evidence, that this is due to the sinking of the tanker.”

The company pointed out that the certificate of seaworthiness for the “Lassaia” expired on September 19 and that it had requested to offload the oil it had harvested from the shipwreck at Hellenic Petroleum before that date.

“For reasons unknown to us, this did not happen, which means that the above ship has been anchored offshore since yesterday, fully loaded and uninsured due to its lack of seaworthiness, with all the risks that this entails,” the shipping firm’s announcement said.

GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.

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