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Libyan high court acquits 7 Filipino seamen in oil smuggling case

The Libyan High Court has acquitted the seven Filipino seafarers who were two years ago for an alleged attempt to smuggle six million liters of oil.

“The Philippines is grateful for the acquittal of the seven Filipino seafarers of the MT Levante who have been held in Libya since 26 August 2017,” DFA Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato said in a Twitter post.

“Thank you to Chargé d’Affaires Mardomel Melicor and Tripoli Philippine Embassy for seeing this through. We will bring our boys home soon,” he added.

In a report to the Home Office in Manila, the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli said 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.

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,” Melicor said.

Melicor said the seven sailors 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.

They were investigated and detained for alleged economic sabotage because they supposedly attempted to smuggle six million liters of fuel.

Libyan authorities released 13 crew members in February last year but charged the remaining seven, who are all officers, and sentenced them to four-year prison terms in November. All of them denied the charges.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. was grateful for the acquittal of the OFWs.

“Tell our boys in Tripoli I love them. Amazing. We thank the Assistance to Nationals Fund as well for paying for the appeals lawyers who got our people acquitted,” Teodoro said in reply to Cato’s tweet.

“I thank the Libyan Government. Yes, the justice system works in Libya. Hope to pay a visit soon,” he added.

The seven sailors detained in Libya since 2017 have been identified as Arthur Soria Taleno, master; Fulgencio Pederito Eulogio, first officer; Claro Camintay Allera, second officer; Abraham Senara Naduma, Jr., third officer; Ronnie Lumales Moniya, chief engineer; Gil Dellupac Cruzada, second engineer; and Aldwin Salang-oy Emperada, third engineer.

 

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