7 Filipino seamen cleared of fuel smuggling in Libya

Teodoro Locsin Jr.

The seven crewmembers of the M/T Levante who were acquitted of charges of fuel smuggling have left Libya, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.

They were accompanied by Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Affairs Abdullah Mamao.

Mamao flew to Libya upon instructions of the President and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. to personally thank Libyan authorities and bring the seven home.

Locsin had earlier welcomed the acquittal of the seven seafarers who have been held in Libya since 2017.

The seven were sentenced to four years in prison in November for allegedly attempting to smuggle 16 million liters of fuel.

On February 28, the Libyan High Court ordered the release of the seven Filipino seafarers.

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.

Authorities released 13 crew members in February last year but charged the remaining seven.

The DFA and the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli have been working for the release of the seven who have consistently denied the charges.

Locsin expressed his appreciation to Libyan authorities for ordering the release of the seven.

He was among those who appealed for the release of the seven along with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Secretary Mamao.