IN an important development that could have implications for Scotland exercising control over its territorial waters, a court has ordered that Malta be recompensed to the tune of millions of dollars for the arrest of one of its ships.

A tribunal had earlier found that the ship Duzgit Integrity had breached the laws of the tiny Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Príncipe – an archipelago off the West coast of Africa – when it attempted to undertake a ship-to-ship cargo transfer in that country’s waters.

The islands’ authorities ordered the imprisonment of the ship’s master and a €5 million fine against the master, owner and charterer of the vessel, plus the confiscation of the ship and its cargo.

A further €28,875 fine was levied by Sao Tome’s Port and Maritime Institute and a customs fine of more than €1m was imposed by its Customs Directorate General.

READ MORE: Scottish Independence Foundation provides backing for AUOB march

Although the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague decided the ship was in breach of the laws, it decreed in 2016 that “prolonged detention of the master and vessel, the monetary sanctions, and the confiscation of the entire cargo when considered together, could not be regarded as proportional when considering the original offence or the interest of ensuring respect for Sao Tome’s sovereignty”.

The court has now ordered Sao Tome and Príncipe to pay for the loss of hire of the Duzgit Integrity, as well as compensation for its cargo and other costs.

The amounts were to be paid were $12,581,038.95, €315,134.16 and £177,509.46.