TRIPOLI: The five-member crew of a Maltese tanker vessel, including two Bulgarian nationals, has been arrested in Libya for alleged smuggling of oil products.
The Moldova flagged ship, Sunoil I, and its crew were detained in Tripoli. Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The tanker sent a distress signal while sailing in the Mediterranean Sea and was towed to Tripoli by an Italian cargo ship. Libyan prosecutors charged the Sunoil I crew with smuggling of oil products.
The Bulgarian nationals are being held at a detention centre near the port of Tripoly, according to the Foreign Ministry. Their names were not disclosed.
Relatives of the two Bulgarians informed the ministry about their arrest on 3 January. The Bulgarian Embassy to Libya, which is temporarily operating from Tunisia, has asked Libya’s Embassy to Tunisia for assistance.
The Foreign Ministry contacted the Bulgarian citizens by phone and they said they were in good health.
Consular officials from Hungary and Italy visited the Bulgarian nationals at the police detention centre on 17 and 18 January and confirmed they were in good health and were treated well. Hungary and Italy are the only EU member states currently maintaining functioning diplomatic missions in the Libyan capital.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry approached the Libyan Embassy in Sofia on 21 January, seeking official information from the Libyan authorities and urging the immediate release of the two Bulgarian nationals.