• April 1, 2023

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Equatorial Guinea has said it will prosecute the owner of an oil tanker “fraudulently” flying the flag of the central African nation that ran aground on April 16 off Tunisia.

Vice president Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue in a statement on Thursday said the country has also requested, “international collaboration to detect vessels illegally flying the Equatorial Guinea’s flag.

“From now on, all vessels that fraudulently fly our flag must be boarded,” said Rufino Ovono Ondo, Minister of Transport, on Thursday on TVGE, the state television. The vice-president also announced in a tweet that an Equatorial Guinean commission would be sent to Tunisia on Friday to “participate in the investigation”.

The Xelo, which left the port of Damietta in Egypt and was, heading for Malta, sank in Tunisian waters where it had taken refuge the day before due to bad weather conditions.

The cause of the oil tanker’s sinking has not been determined. Tunisian navy forces evacuated the seven-crew members before the ship sank and the country’s judiciary has opened an investigation to determine the causes of this accident. It says it also wants to determine the nature of the activity of the tanker and its journey in recent weeks.

The crew – four Turks, a Georgian captain and two Azerbaijanis – were placed under arrest on April 22. Tunis then announced that the ship was empty, ruling out any risk of pollution, after having initially assured that it was carrying 750 tons of diesel.

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