MV Amina back in Iran after escaping from Lanka

Jan. 27, 2013 (LBT) - MV Amina, Iranian-flagged cargo ship that escaped Sri Lankan waters after weeks of detention has arrived back in Iran, shipping sources revealed.

Despite attempts by the naval forces to stop the vessel from leaving Sri Lankan territorial waters, the ship had sailed away in rough seas.

After slipping away from Sri Lankan waters, MV Amina disappeared from ship-tracking systems off the southwest coast of India, and had arrived back in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on Friday.

The vessel was under detention in Sri Lanka on a court order obtained by Germany's DVB Bank to recover debts it said had been unpaid.

Shipping sources said that MV Amina had dropped anchor between two other ships, which DVB Bank has previously tried to seize.

MV Amina, formerly called Shere, is managed by Tehran-based Rahbaran Omid Darya Ship Management, which the European Union and United States have said is a front for Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), Iran's biggest cargo carrier.

IRISL has faced Western sanctions for years based on accusations of transporting weapons, a charge it denies.

MV Amina was seized in December after DVB obtained an order on December 12 from the Colombo High Court to hold the vessel. Court documents showed that DVB Bank sought to recover millions of dollars in unpaid debts.

MV Amina is one of four Iranian bulk ships DVB Bank had been trying to seize. An Iranian-owned dry bulk ship called Uppercourt has been held in the northern Chinese cargo port of Qinhuangdao since November.

Two other vessels that DVB Bank has previously tried to seize, the Tongham and Artin, are also anchored off Bandar Abbas, a key Iranian port near the Strait of Hormuz.

The Artin, previously called Vobster, sailed away from Qinhuangdao in early November, arriving back in Iran in mid-December.

IRISL has tried to dodge sanctions by changing its flags, ship names, and setting up front companies, the U.S. Treasury and the EU have said.

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