Pakistan won’t free tanker crew

KARACHI (AFP) – Pakistani port authorities yesterday rejected the European Parliament’s demand to free the crew of a Greek-managed oil tanker that broke up near the port of Karachi last year, saying only a court could decide their fate. The MV Tasman Spirit caused a huge oil spill – Pakistan’s worst ever – when it sank on August 14 in the Arabian Sea. Its four Greek and three Filipino sailors were detained, as well as a Greek engineer sent to lead salvage efforts. One of the Greeks attempted suicide last month. «This (detention) is normal practice under international laws as local pilots only assist the ship crew (to lead the ship into the port channel),» state-run Karachi Port Trust’s general manager, Brigadier Syed Jamshed Zaidi, told AFP. The tanker’s managers, Polembros Shipping, blame the Karachi port’s pilot for the accident and have said they may ask UK courts to seize Pakistani assets abroad to force the crew’s release. A Pakistani court freed the crew on bail but barred them from leaving the country until a verdict was reached.