Lebanon prosecutor allows departure of Laodicea, but a second seizure order still in place

Although Lebanon’s top prosecutor has lifted a seizure order on cargo ship Laodicea (IMO 9274343), accused of carrying four and barley stolen from Ukraine by Russia (see IMN August 1st), the ship remained unable to sail on Tuesday August 2nd due to another seizure order issued by a judge on Monday in Lebanese city of Tripoli, where the ship is docked.

The Syrian-flagged ship was part-cleared for release after it was seized over allegations by the Ukrainian embassy in Beirut that its flour and barley cargo had been stolen from Ukraine. The vessel had docked in Tripoli last week, apparently having been diverted from Syria because it could get a higher price for its cargo in Lebanon, where there is a serious bread shortage.

Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat, who had ordered the vessel’s seizure on Saturday, allowed the Laodicea, which docked in the northern port city of Tripoli last week, to set sail after investigations failed to prove it carried stolen goods, a judicial official told AFP and Reuters.

“Preliminary investigations… did not reveal the existence of a criminal offence, or that the goods were stolen,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Ukraine’s embassy said it had presented Lebanese authorities with proof that the merchandise was stolen.

The prosecutor had now decided that the grain aboard the vessel belonged to a Syrian merchant, the judicial official said. “The Syrian national whose name is on the shipment from Ukraine came in for investigation and presented the papers and documents that prove his ownership,” the official said on Tuesday.

Ukrainian embassy and the head of Lebanon’s mills association.

2005-built, Syria-flagged, 9,611 gt Laodicea is owned and managed by Syriamar of Latakia, Syria. As of July 31st it remained at the port of Tripoli, Lebanon.