Lebanon Prosecutor orders seizure of grain ship
Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat instructed police to investigate the Laodicea, which docked in Tripoli earlier this week, according to a judicial official.
A Lebanese prosecutor ordered the seizure on Saturday of a grain ship that Kiev claims is carrying Ukrainian grain stolen by Russia, after being inspected by the Lebanese customs officials.
Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat instructed police to investigate the Laodicea, which docked in Tripoli earlier this week, a judicial official said.
Oueidat "ordered the seizure of the ship until the investigation is completed", the official said as quoted by AFP.
The cargo of the Laodicea, which docked in the Lebanese port of Tripoli on Thursday, had "nothing wrong," according to a senior Lebanese customs official, and its papers were in order.
The Laodicea is transporting 5,000 tons of flour and 5,000 tons of barley which the Ukrainian embassy claimed was “illegally exported from the territories of Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, and Kherson” in Ukraine.
The Russian Embassy in Beirut denied any knowledge of Laodicea from the moment it set off for sailing to the moment it docked in Tripoli, Lebanon, affirming that there is no official line of communication between Russia and the vessel.
The Embassy went on to say that Laodicea bears the trademark of a private company that legally purchased grain and barley, according to information provided to the Embassy, which also provided that several private Turkish companies are partners in this ship.
On its account, a Turkey-based grains trading company denied on Friday that barley and flour aboard a ship docked in Lebanon's Port of Tripoli had been stolen from Ukraine, stressing that the flour came from Russia.
The company attempted to sell 5,000 tons of flour on the ship to private buyers in Lebanon rather than the Lebanese government, as per a Loyal Agro Co LTD official.
The cargo, according to the company official, carried some 8,000 tonnes of flour and 1,700 tonnes of barley in total. It was initially destined for Syria, but the company decided to offload 5,000 tonnes of flour in Lebanon to ameliorate the bread crisis. Thus, the remainder of the cargo will be sent off to Syria.
This occurs while Lebanon suffers from a mounting wheat shortage and food security crisis. Lebanese citizens are waiting in queues to get subsidized bread. It is worth noting that the war in Ukraine has worsened the situation as Lebanon imports 80% of its grains from Kiev.
On July 27, it was announced that 49,000 tons of wheat are in the process of being expedited to Lebanon and will be received by the end of the week, according to Economy Minister Amin Salam.