Seven Filipino seafarers charge of smuggling acquitted in Libya

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DAVAO CITY (March 5) — The High Court of Libya has acquitted the seven Filipino seafarers who have been charged since 2017 on allegations of smuggling 6 million liters of fuel.

The Philippine Embassy in Libya informed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) about the news as they welcome the acquittal Sunday night.

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.

The Filipinos were investigated and detained for alleged economic sabotage because they reportedly attempted to smuggle 6 million liters of fuel.

The seven officers remained at the Mitiga airbase jail facility while the other 13 were freed last year after charges against them were dropped.

Chargé d’Affaires Mardomel Celo Melicor said 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.

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.

The Department and the Embassy have been working for the release of the seven who have consistently denied the charges.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. thanked the Libyan government as well as to the agency’s Assistance to Nationals Fund for paying for the appeals lawyers who got the seven seamen, who have consistently denied the charges, acquitted.

In his twitter account, Locsin states “We thank the Assistance to Nationals Fund as well for paying for the appeals lawyers who got our people acquitted. I thank the Libyan government. Yes, the justice system works in Libya. Hope to pay a visit soon.” –ezc/NewsLine.ph

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