Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Guardia Civil land at Gibraltar after boat chase

By Brian Reyes

A Guardia Civil launch similar to the one that chased a local speedboat into the heart of Gibraltar’s harbour on Monday
A Guardia Civil launch chased a local speedboat into the heart of Gibraltar’s harbour in broad daylight on Monday afternoon after the vessel’s occupants ignored repeated requests for them to stop.

The Gibraltar vessel, which was first approached about three miles off Europa Point, raced into port and tried to find refuge in the area close to the Royal Gibraltar Yacht Club. But the Spanish officers persisted doggedly in their pursuit.

Eyewitnesses told the Chronicle that the two boats weaved between the Victory sailing yachts moored just off the club’s premises.

“We’re telling you to stop,” one Guardia Civil was said to have shouted.

The drama intensified as a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat from the military’s boat section joined in the chase and, in the words of one eyewitness, “tried to ambush the boat.”

The local launch then apparently approached the Royal Gibraltar Police’s marine section, which is based opposite the Yacht Club, and came alongside one of its pontoons.

The Guardia Civil launch also came alongside and, in what is believed to be a first, the two officers inside stepped ashore to talk to local police officers.

The Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) yesterday confirmed that the incident had taken place but played down its significance.

“They [the Guardia Civil] shouldn’t have come into our jurisdiction, but they did,” a police spokesman said last night.

“They explained the situation and we took everyone’s details.”

The Guardia Civil officers were finally escorted out of Gibraltar waters.

According to the police there were three local youths on board the Gibraltar launch, a small fibreglass pleasure boat.

Nothing suspicious was found on board and it is not clear why the boat’s occupants did not stop when first approached by the Guardia Civil out in the Bay of Gibraltar.


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