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Customs declare war on fuel bought in north

The customs department said on Wednesday it would step up checks on vehicles at crossing points and seize fuel bought in the north.

The department warned that vehicles could even be confiscated.

Although it did not specify in its announcement, the department implied it would be targeting Greek Cypriots who have been increasingly filling their tanks in the north, taking advantage of the much lower price of fuel.

According to the statement, the law affords customs officers the power to stop and search any vehicle and take samples for testing or seize products whose tax has not been paid in the Republic.

“The power in question extends to the vehicle itself which is subject to confiscation,” the department said. “The implicated individual is guilty of an offence.”

Customs said the sulphur content of diesel sold in the north did not meet the standards applied by the Republic, which were set by the energy ministry.

The sulphur content is higher and thus in violation of the fuel standards law, it added. There was no mention of how petrol would be tested.

“In the event of illegal transport of fuel from the occupied areas, irrespective of them being in portable tanks or the vehicle’s fuel tank, these will be confiscated and those involved will be subject to the penalties stipulated by the law,” the department said.

Greek Cypriots took to social media questioning the decision, which they described as ill-thought and destined to fail.

One user wondered whether customs would also be stopping Turkish Cypriots whose vehicles are certain to contain fuel from the north.


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