A court has refused to prohibit the authorities from selling fuel held in a ship, ruling an injunction request did not satisfy the legal requirements.

Pierre Darmanin had asked the court to prohibit the transfer, sale or unloading of the fuel legally held on the MV Silverking, a vessel he claimed belonged to him.

On July 1, the Armed Forces of Malta noticed spilled fuel outside territorial waters. Four ships, including MV Silverking, were escorted to the harbour. A magisterial inquiry concluded that although it was carrying fuel from Misrata, Libya, it was not involved in the spillage.

The authorities decided the ship could not carry out bunkering operations in Maltese waters as it was only a supply vessel and could not be used to store fuel.

This gave rise to safety concerns and the Police Commissioner asked the inquiring magistrate to order the removal of MV Silverking’s fuel.

The court ordered this to be done at the expense of the Registrar of Courts and used by Enemalta, on condition that its owner would be compensated if no criminal charges were filed.

Mr Darmanin submitted the fuel was bought legally and he could not be ordered to give it to Enemalta.

Mr Justice Joseph Zammit McKeon said Mr Darmanin had not told the court he would suffer irremediable harm if the warrant was not upheld. This was a legal requirement.

Also, the ship was owned by a company, Silver King Ltd, of which Mr Darmanin was a director, and not by Mr Darmanin himself. Neither did he own the fuel.

The court dismissed the application, which was filed against the Police Commissioner, Harbour Master, Enemalta, Controller of Customs, Malta Transport Authority, Attorney General, AFM and Registrar of Courts.

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