A Greek court on Wednesday overturned an earlier court ruling that allowed the confiscation by the United States of part of a cargo of Iranian oil on Iranian-flagged tanker Lana off the Greek coast of Karystos in south Evia. The incident led to an angry response by Iran that seized two Greek tankers in the Persian Gulf last month.
“The ruling has been overturned, the confiscation has been cancelled and therefore things must return to the former status,” Panagiotis Hiotelis, the legal representative of the shipping company told protothema.
This mean that the seized quantity of 107,000 tones Iranian oil must be returned and the tanker allowed to leave.
However, following the initial court ruling, the United States confiscated the Iranian oil cargo – the whole or part of it, is unclear – in May and transferred it to a chartered tanker of a Greek shipping company that was reportedly supposed to transport the cargo to some US port.
- Yet, if the Greek media information regarding the tanker’s name is correct, the chartered tanker is anchored off the port of Piraeus on Thursday morning.
Iran had also appealed the original court decision and its ambassador to Athens, Ahmad Nadero, visited tanker Lana on Tuesday after his visit request was approved by Greek authorities.
It was not immediately clear if the US or Greek governments would challenge the ruling, which was given in the Appeals court of the region of Halkida, notes Reuters..
The case arose when Greek authorities in April impounded the Iranian-flagged Lana, formerly Pegas, with 19 Russian crew members on board, near the coast of the southern island of Evia due to European Union sanctions.
The seizure of the two Greek tankers led to tension between the two countries, with Greeks calling the seizure “piracy” and Iranians calling Greeks “enemy” so Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei over the weekend.
The latest development is very likely to diffuse tension between Athens and Tehran and have the release of the two tankers and their crews that remain hostages in the Gulf.
In a separate case, Greek authorities later seized Lana again, acting on an interim court order over alleged debts to another shipping company, represented by lawyer George Kozanidis. The lawyer declined to disclose the name of the company he represents but told Reuters that the case is related to unpaid towing services.