British fishing vessel Cornelis Le Havre departed on Wednesday after getting a green light from the courts, while new discussions are scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
An illustration of the tensions between France and the United Kingdom in the fishing dispute, the Cornelis, which has been frozen by French authorities in the port of Le Havre since last Wednesday, was able to set out around 6pm.
Concluding a week of legal clashes, the Court of Appeals in Rouen has authorized the ship, suspected of poaching more than two tons of scallops without a license, “to leave Le Havre immediately without having to pay any bail,” the captain’s lawyer, Matthew Croix told AFP.
The state had asked to freeze the fishing vessel pending the payment of a deposit of 150,000 euros, to ensure the presence of the captain, who is scheduled to appear on August 11 to answer the charge of illegal fishing.
But the Liberties and Detentions Judge (JLD) opposed this moratorium.
This demand was “disproportionate” to the value of the confiscated goods, at around 5,000 euros, according to the captain’s lawyer.
He praised a “good court decision” likely to reduce tensions in this festering case.
In a ruling obtained by Agence France-Presse, a copy of it, the investigation room of the Court of Appeal in Rouen confirmed, after a session held on Wednesday morning, “the order to lift the seizure of the ship and its fishing equipment, which were returned on October 28.” Liberties and Detention Judge.
– ‘Freedom to go’ –
At Le Havre, Captain Gundy Ward and seven of his crew, all smiling, stood in the stern of their boat in front of the targets of journalists, mostly British, before leaving the port at about 6:00 pm with the sirens activating. France Press agency.
Ship owner Cornelis Andrew Brown of Shellfish Macduff replied, “The ship is now free to leave. We are disembarking and going out to sea,” welcoming the case’s outcome. “It’s been a long week,” Mr. Brown commented.
This result comes at a time when the French government spokesman, Gabriel Attal, said, on Wednesday, that a meeting will be held in Brussels at the European Commission on Friday, the day after the visit of the British Minister of State for Britain’s exit from the European Union, David Frost, to Paris, with the aim of Settlement of the situation in the European Union. fishing dispute.
Mr Atal announced that a meeting had been scheduled between Minister of State for European Affairs Clement Bonn and David Frost, and noted that the dispute over fishing was first and foremost a “European issue”, and that it would be necessary to wait for “the outcome of the meeting before a possible implementation of sanctions.”
Mr Attal noted that “all options were on the table” regarding future sanctions, while Emmanuel Macron on Sunday gave Britons until Thursday before taking action if London did not accept the “de-escalation” proposed by Paris.
Gabriel Attal reiterated that the French government expected London to “respect” its post-Brexit obligations, in particular “fishing licenses”, rejecting the notion that the signed agreement was “vague” on this point.
Built in 1985, the Cornelis Gert Jan, a large fishing vessel measuring 36 meters in length and eight meters in width, was diverted on Wednesday as part of tighter controls by French authorities in the canal, while France is in dispute with the United Kingdom over a post Exit permits for Britain to leave the European Union.
The captain faces a fine of 75,000 euros and an administrative fine, according to the prosecution.
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