YAOUNDE, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- The Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping, which manages the oil tanker which had been seized by the military in Cameroon since Friday, was accused on Monday of defamation.
"We are asking Eastern Pacific Shipping to stop spreading false information while warning them of the risk of legal proceeding for defamation they expose themselves if they do not put an end to disinformation," George Esimi, lead counsel of the Cameroon charterer DSC Marine said in a statement released Monday evening.
The statement came after Eastern Pacific Shipping, in a communique published on Sunday, accused DSC Marine of using "illegitimate means to seize the vessel for the purpose of holding its owners to ransom".
There were 26 crew members on board, including the captain from Ukraine and two Chinese nationals. They were forbidden to leave the ship and the ship was forbidden to leave the port. There have been no reports of physical injuries of the crew members.
According to the Chinese embassy in Cameroon, the Singaporean vessel, after discharge operations in Cameroon's Limbe port in the Southwest region, was about to leave when Cameroon military controlled it on Friday evening.
Esimi said that the vessel was "immobilized" following an order by the president of the High Court of Buea, chief town in southwestern Cameroon.
"The order was obtained and the seizure of the ship made in accordance with all the other international treaties and applicable texts concerning detention of ship," Esimi said without specifying the reason for the seizure.
A Cameroon military official who preferred not to be named told Xinhua, the ship was seized over "a commercial disagreement".
"The ship is still in our keeping. They were operating where they were not supposed to operate and we seized it," the official said on Monday.