Monday, December 07, 2009

Four Guardia Civil arrested in Gibraltar harbour following chase incident

According to media reports tonight, four Spanish 'Guardia Civil' officers were detained in Gibraltar earlier today, following an incident.

Gibraltar's Panorama is reporting that a Guardia Civil launch was chasing a Spanish fast boat in waters near Gibraltar. The pursuit continued into Gibraltar harbour and ended with both the fast boat and the Guardia Civil launch being grounded in Gibraltar port area by 'Harbour Views', late this evening.

Once on land, the two men on the fast launch raced for cover. The Guardia Civil rushed after them. Shots were heard, it is claimed.

The Guardia Civil officers were taken to Police HQ. Gibraltar police also arrested the two men on the fast launch and took them away. The two vessels have been seized.

The Gibraltar police said this was a 'very serious' incident.

Eyewitnesses claim that several shots were heard, but it was not clear how many and this report has not been confirmed.

Later this evening, the Guardia Civil officers were released after questioning and Spain's Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba telephoned Gibraltar's Chief Minister Peter Caruana and apologised for the incursion.

"Sr Rubalcaba called me personally tonight. He said that they deeply regretted the incident and apologised," Caruana said.

Last month, London's ambassador in Spain was obliged to make a public apology on November 20 after a Royal Navy unit based in Gibraltar was seen shooting at a buoy allegedly 'painted in the colours of the Spanish flag' during target practice.

The Spanish Government does not recognise the waters around the Rock, which are British Gibraltar Territorial Waters. But the Spanish have been arrested within the waters of the port itself, which the Spanish Government accept that these waters were ceded under the terms of the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, Britain's legal title to the Rock.