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ACQUITTED IN FUEL SMUGGLING CASE

7 Filipino seafarers detained in Libya now back home

/ 12:15 AM March 13, 2019
Seven Filipino seafarers welcome by relatives at NAIA

Seven Filipino seafarers arrive in Manila Tuesday night (March 12, 2019) after 18 months of detention in Libya over alleged fuel smuggling. They were acquitted and ordered released by the Libyan High Court last week. (Photo by NILO PALAYA / Department of Foreign Affairs)

MANILA, Philippines — The seven Filipino seafarers that had been detained in Libya since 2017 for alleged fuel smuggling were eventually released and arrived in the Philippines Tuesday night, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs shares the untold joy of the loved ones of the seven Filipino seafarers of the M/T Levante who were finally reunited with their families in the Philippines this evening,” the DFA said.

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The DFA said that the seven Filipinos were flown from Istanbul to Manila on board a Turkish Airlines flight accompanied by Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Affairs Abdullah Mama-o and Philippine Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Mardomel Melicor.

The wives and children of the seafarers, together with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola, welcomed them at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

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The seven seafarers were among the 20 Filipino crew members of the Liberian-flagged MV Levant who were taken into custody by the Libyan Coast Guard in August 2017 on suspicion of fuel smuggling.

The Libyan High Court acquitted the seven and ordered their release just last week after reviewing their case, the DFA noted.

READ: 7 Filipino seafarers in Libya acquitted in fuel smuggling case — DFA

“The DFA, through the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli, worked closely with Libyan authorities to secure their release and kept the families of the seafarers in the Philippines constantly updated,” it said.

The DFA added that it shouldered the cost of the repatriation of the seven on their journey from Tripoli and also extended financial assistance worth of P100,000 each.

The financial aid, the DFA said, was sourced from the P1 billion Assistance to Nationals Fund that was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte. /atm

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TAGS: DFA, Filipino seafarers, fuel smuggling case
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