Tripoli, Libya. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Seven Filipino seafarers in Libya who were arrested two years ago for allegedly attempting to smuggle oil have been cleared of charges.

On Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement that the Libyan High Court has ordered the release of the seven Filipino seafarers, who were sentenced to four years in prison for fuel smuggling late last year.

According to Chargé d’Affaires Mardomel Celo Melicor of the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli, the seven seafarers were among 20 Filipinos taken into custody after the Libyan Coast Guard seized an oil tanker on suspicion of fuel smuggling in 2017.

Authorities released 13 crew members in February last year but charged the remaining seven, who were all officers, and sentenced them to four years in prison in November.

Melicor said the Embassy received a copy of the acquittal by the High Court on Sunday and the Embassy was now working to repatriate the seven Filipinos.

“The Department and the Embassy have been working for the release of the seven who have consistently denied the charges,” the DFA said.

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