Libya frees 7 Filipino seamen detained for alleged smuggling

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 4) — The Libyan government has ordered the release of seven Filipino seafarers who have been detained in the North African country for more than a year over smuggling allegations, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.

In a statement, the DFA welcomed the acquittal of the Filipino workers and said that the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli is now coordinating with the Libyan authorities for the repatriation of the seafarers.

On Twitter, DFA Secretary Teodoro "Teddy" Locsin Jr. said Presidential Adviser Abdullah Mama-o will fly to Libya to "receive" the acquitted Filipino seamen on his behalf on Friday, March 8.

The seven seafarers were among the 20 Filipino crew members of Liberian-flagged oil tanker MV Levante who were taken into custody by the Libyan Coast Guard in August 2017 on suspicion of fuel smuggling. They were accused of attempting to smuggle six million liters of fuel aboard the ship.

Thirteen of them were released in February last year while the seven others, who were all officers, have been sentenced to four-year imprisonment last November.