Misrata frees Maltese vessel after detention for not so long

Patron Group chief executive Paul Attard says cargo ship had not been seized by and it was all down to a dispute between an Italian businessman and a Libyan company

The 'Med Patron' cargo ship. Photo credit: www.maltashipphotos.com
The ‘Med Patron’ cargo ship. Photo credit: www.maltashipphotos.com

Patron Group chief executive Paul Attard has denied his captain had been detained after reports that a dispute between businessmen resulted in the seizure of a cargo ship.

The ‘Med Patron’ cargo ship, which was transporting 64 horses in two trucks from Malta to Libya, was not allowed to leave the port by employees of the Libyan company, Attard told MaltaToday.

The cargo ship left Malta on Tuesday morning, got caught in the cyclonic weather that hit the Mediterranean on Wednesday and arrived in the port of Misrata on Thursday. 19 of the horses had perished on the way.

“We urged him to postpone the departure of the horses from Malta until the weather had calmed down,” Attard said, referring to International Horse Transport chief officer Ivan Riccardi.

“They however insisted that the horses should leave and the ship left on Tuesday. We were not responsible of the livestock, so much so that two representatives from the Italian company were on board the ship to take care of the horses.”

Upon entering the port, an agent for the Libyan company realized that 19 of the horses had perished on the journey. Representatives of the company surrounded the cargo ship with other ships, as well as cars on the quay, and demanded €100,000 in compensation for the dead horses.

Riccardi filed a report with the police in Malta. On his part, ship captain David Bonello reassured the police that the ship was safe and the crew was not in any danger. The ship had to wait until a Libyan intermediate to pay the Libyan agency the €100,000 demanded.

Attard said that authorities in Misrata had reassured Patron Group that the ship was safe and it was a business dispute between the buyers and the sellers.

“The vessel is on its way to Malta as we speak,” Attard confirmed.

MaltaToday is informed that the case was handed over to police inspector Daryl Borg, who had contacted the International Relations Unit and Immigrations’ Branch within the police force, both of whom admitted that they could not help as they have no official contact with the Libyan authorities.

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