21 February 2013, 19:45

Russian sailors face life imprisonment in Nigeria

Russian sailors face life imprisonment in Nigeria

The Russian sailors who are under arrest in Nigeria may be sentenced to life imprisonment, the Moran Security Group – the ship owner – said. The new session of the Nigerian court is set for February 25.

15 Russian sailors detained in Nigeria are accused of illegal crossing into the country and also of carrying arms there. Their lawyers are pressing for their release on bail. Earlier this week another request on that score was questioned anew. The prosecutors fear that should the sailors be released, they would flee the country. Moreover, the Nigerian court believes that the detainees may pose a threat to national security, Deputy Director General of Moran Security Group Vadim Gusev told the Voice of Russia.

"The point is that Russian citizens – the company’s staff members, will be tried on a count that is punishable by life imprisonment in Nigeria."

The arrested Myre Seadiver vessel is used for the protection of merchant vessels from pirate attacks. The crew was engaged in this work in the Gulf of Aden before entering the Gulf of Guinea. There were plans to replace the crew and to repair the ship in the Lagos port. After notifying the local company agent, the vessel called at the port. Moran Security Group has both the letters and paid-off bills. The arms that were bought in compliance with the official contracts which was confirmed by relevant licenses were on board the ship. Nigeria’s Navy was informed about the reasons for the ship’s calling at the port as well as about the cargo. However, after the vessel spent 3 weeks in the port, the Nigerian authorities qualified the cargo as undeclared and said that the vessel had crossed into Nigeria illegally.

Last month Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that his ministry would put political and diplomatic pressure on the Nigerian side, pressing for the sailors’ release. Moreover, all this may affect the friendly character of the Russian-Nigerian relations, he stressed.

Detained Russian sailors in Nigeria denied bail

The Russian sailors who have been held in Lagos since last October on arms smuggling charges have been again denied bail.

If found guilty, they may face life sentences.

The owners of their Myre Seadiver freighter say the arms in question were part of a legal arsenal to protect the company’s ships against pirates.

Charges against Russian sailors in Nigeria groundless, trade union says

The trade union of Russian sailors is demanding that the trial over Russian sailors from the vessel Myre Seadiver should be stopped, and the sailors should be released.

The crew of Myre Seadiver, 15 members of which are Russian citizens, has been arrested in Nigeria on charges of smuggling weapons to terrorists. A trial over them started on Tuesday in the Nigerian city of Lagos.

The charges against the sailors are absolutely groundless, the Russian trade union says.

The demand to release the sailors was supported by the International Federation of Transport Workers, which supports the interests of 4.5 mln workers from 154 countries.

15 Russian sailors denied bail in Nigeria

The Nigerian court hasn’t released on bail 15 arrested Russian seamen who have been held in a detention center since October 2012, ship owner’s spokesman Sergei Maximov has said.

Mr. Maximov stressed this was only the first bail hearing in the case of a Moran Security Group’s ship crew.

Prosecutors have reportedly requested more time for pre-trial investigation. The crew is to appear before court next Monday, he said.

15 Russian sailors denied bail in Nigeria

The Nigerian court hasn’t released on bail 15 arrested Russian seamen who have been held in a detention center since October 2012, ship owner’s spokesman Sergei Maximov has said.

Mr. Maximov stressed this was only the first bail hearing in the case of a Moran Security Group’s ship crew.

Prosecutors have reportedly requested more time for pre-trial investigation. The crew is to appear before court next Monday, he said.

Voice of Russia, RIA, TASS

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