US Vessel arrives in Margarita, case handed over to Venezuelan Prosecutors

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A Venezuelan Coast Guard boat sits next to the 285-foot survey ship Teknik Perdana docked near the shore in Margarita Island, Venezuela, Sunday. [Gustavo Granado / AP]
A Venezuelan Coast Guard boat sits next to the 285-foot survey ship Teknik Perdana docked near the shore in Margarita Island, Venezuela, Sunday. [Gustavo Granado / AP]
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The U.S vessel which was arrested by the Venezuelan navy has arrived in Margarita and is currently under investigation by the Venezuelan authorities.

The meeting between Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues – Birkett and Venezuela’s Minister of External Relations, Elías Jaua is slated to take place on Thursday October 17.

According to the Associated Press, five American citizens were among the crew of the U.S.-chartered oil exploration ship, when it was looking for oil in Guyana’s waters.

The foreign news agency noted that the crew would be held on board while an investigation continued.

According to them, Admiral Angel Belisario Martinez told local station Union Radio that the research ship was conducting “unauthorized scientific work” in Venezuela’s exclusive economic zone. He said the case had been turned over to prosecutors.

Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry had said Friday that the ship and its crew would be subject to an “inquiry under the International Maritime Law and pursuant to the safeguarding of our sovereignty in maritime areas.”

According to a press statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Guyana, upon the arrest of the ship, contact was made with Venezuela.

The vessel – the Teknik Perdana – was surveying the seafloor on Thursday, October 10 when it was approached by a Venezuelan navy vessel and forced to sail to Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Guyana has since maintained that the vessel was taken control of by the Venezuelan navy while in Guyana’s waters.

However, the Venezuelan government is of the view that the vessel was in their territory illegally. Guyana has since warned the Venezuelan authorities that their actions in the disputed Essequibo region constituted “a serious threat to peace in the region”.

“One point is clear: the Teknik Perdana was in Guyana’s waters when this incident took place,” said the Guyanan foreign ministry in a statement.

The vast area west of the Essequibo River makes up two-thirds of the territory of Guyana. It has been claimed by Venezuela as its own since the 19th century, when Guyana was still a British colony.

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