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Libya acquits 7 Filipino seafarers in fuel smuggling case

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

TRIPOLI – Libya acquitted seven Filipino seafarers earlier sentenced to four years in prison for an alleged attempt to smuggle fuel, Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced on Monday.

DFA was informed by the Philippines’ Embassy in Tripoli that “the Libyan High Court has ordered the release of the seven crew members of the M/T Levante who were earlier sentenced by a lower court to four years in prison for allegedly attempting to smuggle fuel.”

“Chargé d’Affaires Mardomel Celo Melicor said the Embassy received a copy of the order of the High Court on Sunday. The Embassy is now coordinating the repatriation of the seven seafarers with Libyan authorities.” reads the statement by DFA.

“The seven were among 20 Filipinos who were taken into custody after the Libyan Coast Guard boarded and seized the Liberian-flagged tanker while it was anchored in international waters.” DFA quoted Melicor as saying.

The DFA said the Filipinos “were investigated and detained for alleged economic sabotage because they supposedly attempted to smuggle 6 million liters of fuel.”

The DFA said authorities released 13 of the 20 Filipino crew members in February 2018, “but charged the remaining 7, who are all officers, and sentenced them to 4-year prison terms in November.”

The Philippines had worked for the release of the 7 Filipinos “who have consistently denied the charges.”

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