TRIPOLI: Libya will release the crew of a tanker that loaded oil at a rebel-held port and was stopped by the U.S. navy off Cyprus, its state prosecutor said on Monday.
Three Libyan rebel fighters who had boarded the tanker will stay in jail, Abdelqadir Rawdan told Reuters. The crew was made up of sailors from Pakistan, India, Syria, Sudan and other countries.
“The crew will be released and expelled,” he said.
The ship which has been taken over by US Navy Seals has a Pakistani captain, Mirza Noman Baig, and five other Pakistanis in its crew ,chief officer Ghufran Margoob, second officer Mehdi Shamsi, third officer Asif Hasan, Naik Zada and Muhammad Arshad.
On Sunday, the Morning Glory arrived in the Libyan capital Tripoli after U.S. special forces stormed the tanker a week ago and handed it over to Libya’s nascent navym which had initially failed to stop it.
The ship had docked two weeks ago at the Es Sider port, which is under control of rebels demanding autonomy and a greater share of oil for Libya’s east of the country.
Rawdan said the crew was still being investigated but it was clear that its members had acted at gun point.
The return of the tanker was a rare victory for Tripoli, which is struggling to end a port blockade by rebels, one of many challenges facing the central government which has failed to secure the country three years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.
Former anti-Gaddafi rebels and militias refuse to surrender their weapons and often use force or control of oil facilities to make demands on a state whose army is still in training with Western governments.