Lebanon is set to release the Syrian-flagged ship Laodicea several days after it was seized over an arbitrary assumption by the Ukrainian ambassador to Lebanon, Ihor Ostash.
According to a senior judiciary official, Lebanon’s top prosecutor allowed the ship to leave Lebanon on 1 August and head to its final destination.
The prosecutor was quoted by local media as saying Ukrainian officials had failed to present evidence to back their claim of theft against Russia and the Syrian authorities.
On 27 July, a Syrian ship under US sanctions docked in the Lebanese port of Tripoli, carrying 8,000 tons of flour and 1,700 tons of barley.
A few days later, Ukrainian officials alleged that the ship was carrying goods “plundered by Russia from Ukrainian stores.”
“The Ukrainian or Russian authorities must provide us with a request for legal assistance or a warrant, else there will be no criminal case,” the official who chose to speak under anonymity said to The Cradle.
The ship will remain docked for several more days, as another temporary seizure order was issued by a judge in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, according to Reuters.
The new court order was announced on 1 August by the Ukrainian embassy in Lebanon, as Ostash tweeted about an official request for legal assistance by the prosecutor general of Ukraine, Andriy Kostin.
The request was delivered to the Lebanese Minister of Justice Henry Khoury, but no official decision regarding the fate of the ship has been taken at the ministerial level.
In light of the contradictory Lebanese response, Ostash will hold a press conference on 3 August at the Ukrainian embassy.
Ostash is expected to present evidence from the Ukraine on the origin of the ship’s cargo.
التقيت اليوم بوزير العدل، هنري خوري، وأبلغته بخصوص طلب المدعي العام الأوكراني المساعدة القانونية الدولية في قضية السفينة "لاوديسا". pic.twitter.com/wC4NIzokPD
— Ihor Ostash (@IhorOstash) August 1, 2022
A Syrian official has informed Al-Akhbar newspaper that the Syrian government communicated its official objection to the Lebanese government over the decision to seize Laodicea.
Earlier in October 2020, the Lebanese government, in compliance with the Caesar Act, seized a Syrian-owned ship carrying four million liters of much needed gasoline.