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Takers : Tunisia imprisons crew members of a ship that sank off its coast

A Tunisian judge has decided to imprison the seven crew members of a merchant ship that sank off the coast of the southern city of Gabes this month, as authorities investigate whether the ship was deliberately sunk, a judicial official said.

Tunisian officials said this month that a ship heading from Equatorial Guinea to Malta carrying up to 1,000 tons of oil sank and that the Tunisian navy rescued all seven crew members.

But they later said that it turned out that the ship’s cargo did not contain any fuel, but that it was empty.

Since the shipwreck was announced, Tunisia has intensified its efforts to avoid a potential environmental disaster, but a specialized diving team discovered that the cargo was empty, raising questions about a fallacy from the ship’s crew.

After days of interrogation with the ship’s crew, the Gabes court judge decided to imprison the crew members. “The investigative judge has issued an arrest warrant for the ship’s crew,” Mohamed El-Karai, a spokesman for the Gabes court, told local radio Mosaique.

The ship’s crew consists of four Turks, two Azerbaijanis, and one Georgian

. Al-Karay had previously said that an investigation was underway to find out whether the ship sank normally or was sank to obtain compensation from insurance companies, or whether there were suspicions of oil smuggling.

The same source said that the crew said that the ship’s route document had been lost, and added that there were inconsistencies in the information provided by its members.

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