The captain of an Iranian-operated supertanker that has been seized by the UK says British marines used excessive force while detaining the vessel in the Strait of Gibraltar off Spain.
Speaking anonymously to the BBC on Tuesday, the captain, an Indian national, said he received a radio call for police to board his ship and that he lowered the ladder at the time of the incident on July 4.
But instead of police boarding, he said, a military helicopter landed on the ship in “a very dangerous move,” and about 30 marines disembarked.
He said the marines then acted aggressively even though the crew was unarmed.
“How do you come on a ship like this with armed forces and such brute force? For what reason?” he said.
He said he identified himself as the captain, but the marines ignored him and instead had his unarmed crew kneel at gunpoint, shouting “Look forward, look forward!”
“They didn’t care whether I was master… there was no regulations… we had 28 unarmed crew. I was in a state of shock, everybody was in a state of shock,” the captain said.
The marines could have boarded the ship and simply told him he had been arrested, he said.
This is while Gibraltar police had earlier claimed that “minimum force” was used to detain the vessel.
The British naval forces seized the supertanker Grace 1 on the allegation that it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of the European Union (EU)’s unilateral sanctions on the Arab country.
Iran has denied that the vessel was heading for Syria, and Spain later said that London had ordered the confiscation at the request of the United States, which has been trying to hamper Iran’s international oil sales.
Tensions escalated quickly between Tehran and London after the illegal seizure.
Later in the month, Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker sailing in the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf because it refused to stop after hitting an Iranian fishing boat, a violation of international maritime rules.
Tehran has sternly cautioned London against attempting further provocation.
Britain has, however, dispatched two warships — the HMS Duncan and the HMS Montros — to the Persian Gulf under the pretext of trying to “protect” the British ships sailing in the waters.