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Maersk ‘insists’ Iran release crew and ship

After Iran says a court has ordered A.P. Moeller-Maersk to pay $3.6 million over a cargo spat, the Danish company pleas for the crew of the Maersk Tigris to be released.

Maersk 'insists' Iran release crew and ship
Maersk said it couldn't comment on the alleged $3.6 million ruling. Photo: Torben Huss/Scanpix
Danish shipping group A.P. Moeller-Maersk on Thursday urged Iran to release the crew of a chartered cargo vessel seized by Iran over a 10-year cargo dispute with an Iranian company.
 
"We must insist that the crew and vessel are released as soon as possible. The crew is not employed by Maersk Line, nor is the vessel owned by Maersk Line," the company said in a statement.
 
"Maersk Tigris and its crew are thus not in any way party to the case, which presumably is the reason behind the seizure of Maersk Tigris," it added.
 
Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards intercepted the ship on Tuesday in the strategic Strait of Hormuz amid heightened regional tension over the Yemen conflict and high-stakes diplomacy over Iran's nuclear programme.
 
The Marshall Islands-flagged vessel was operated by Rickmers Ship Management, with head offices in Singapore and Hamburg, and was carrying cargo for Maersk Line.
 
The Danish company said it had been told by the Iranian Ports and Maritime Organisation at a meeting Wednesday that the seizure was linked to the loss of ten containers it had shipped to Dubai for an Iranian company in January 2005.
 
"The containers were never collected by the consignee or any other party. After 90 days and in accordance with United Arab Emirates law, the cargo was disposed of by [the] authorities," it said.
 
Several Iranian district courts had dismissed a $4.0 million (26.7 million kroner, 3.59 million euro) lawsuit by the Iranian company against Maersk over the lost cargo but in February the group had accepted an appeal court's ruling to pay the firm $163,000.
 
The group said it had been told at the Wednesday meeting that following another appeal it had been ordered to pay $3.6 million in compensation.
 
"As we do not have the details of the ruling we are not able to comment," it said.
 
The Pentagon said on Wednesday that Iran's Revolutionary Guards had "harassed" a US-flagged commercial ship last week in the Gulf, raising security concerns over shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz, through which a third of global marine oil traffic passes.

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TRIAL

Danish terror trial begins against Iranian separatists

Three leaders of an Iranian Arab separatist group pleaded not guilty to financing and promoting terrorism in Iran with Saudi Arabia's backing, as their trial opened in Denmark on Thursday.

Danish terror trial begins against Iranian separatists
File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The three risk 12 years in prison if found guilty.

Aged 39 to 50, the trio are members of the separatist organisation ASMLA (Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz), which is based in Denmark and the Netherlands and which Iran considers a terrorist group.

The three, one of whom is a Danish citizen, have been held in custody in Denmark since February 2020.

Gert Dyrn, lawyer for the eldest of the three, told AFP that in his client’s opinion “what they are charged with is legitimate resistance towards an oppressive regime.”

“They are not denying receiving money from multiple sources, including Saudi Arabia, to help the movement and help them accomplish their political aim,” Dyrn said. 

His client has lived as a refugee in Denmark since 2006. 

According to the charge sheet seen by AFP, the three received around 30 million kroner (four million euros, $4.9 million) for ASMLA and its armed branch, through bank accounts in Austria and the United Arab Emirates.

The trio is also accused of spying on people and organisations in Denmark between 2012 and 2020 for Saudi intelligence.

Finally, they are also accused of promoting terrorism and “encouraging the activities of the terrorist movement Jaish Al-Adl, which has activities in Iran, by supporting them with advice, promotion, and coordinating attacks.”

The case dates back to 2018 when one of the three was the target of a foiled attack on Danish soil believed to be sponsored by the Iranian regime in retaliation for the killing of 24 people in Ahvaz, southwestern Iran, in September 2018.

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Tehran formally denied the attack plan in Denmark, but a Danish court last year jailed a Norwegian-Iranian for seven years for his role in the plot. 

That attack put Danish authorities on the trail of the trio’s ASMLA activities.

Sunni Saudi Arabia is the main rival in the Middle East of Shia Iran, and Tehran regularly accuses it, along with Israel and the United States, of supporting separatist groups.

Lawyer Gert Dyrn said this was “the first case in Denmark within terror law where you have to consider who is a terrorist and who is a freedom fighter.”

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