The Malta Independent 18 October 2021, Monday

Tunisian ‘sailor’ sheds new light on Libya to Malta oil smuggling

Monday, 18 December 2017, 12:00 Last update: about 5 years ago

The illegal smuggling of oil from Libya to Malta is carried out by Libyan militias “in league” with Libyan authorities who pay Tunisian sailors €350 per voyage, according to an interview that appeared in a Libyan news portal.

The interview, by one of these Tunisian sailors, who remained anynymous, has been reproduced in several Italian news portals.

The sailor says the voyages in which crude oil is transferred to vessels carrying the Maltese flag were being carried out in “perfect safety.”

Some of the Italian news sites said fuel smuggling from Libya was perhaps what had cost the life of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, pointing out that the head prosecutor of Sicily, Carmelo Zuccaro, had also pointed out to the link.

In the interview given to Libyan satellite TV Almarsad, the man says he had been arrested in Italy for being in possession of heroin but was let off when he decided to return to his home country.

He subsequently found work in Libya, working at a pumping station between Zuwara and Sabratha, in the West of Libya. This part of the country is controlled by the Government of National Accord, which is recognized by the international community.

"All the oil comes from the big station in Zawiyah," says the trafficker, explaining that the smuggled crude oil "is pumped into underwater hoses connected to the boat".

The boat then sails out “under the eyes” of the Libyan coast guard, he alleges, before the cargo is transferred to other vessels off the coast of Malta.

The Tunisian ‘sailor’says he is paid €350 for every trip, which is good money he reckons, seeing that the trips are carried out in perfect safety.

He also claims that he landed the job after paying 3.5 million Libyan dinars to “men in uniform” who, he says, are “both mafia and authority."

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