Seven Filipino sailors are reunited with their families in Manila after they were cleared of oil smuggling charges in Libya. Photo: Department of Foreign Affairs

Seven Filipino sailors who were cleared of oil smuggling charges in Libya have returned home to the Philippines.

In 2017, 20 Filipinos were taken into custody after the Libyan Coast Guard seized an oil tanker on suspicion of fuel smuggling. 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, GMA News reported.

The seven sailors were detained for allegedly smuggling six million liters of fuel. On March 4, the Libyan High Court acquitted the seven Filipinos after a review of their case. The men consistently denied the charges against them.

The Philippine Embassy in Tripoli received a copy of the acquittal from the High Court and worked with Libyan authorities in repatriating the men.

On Tuesday evening, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement that the seven men had arrived in Manila and were reunited with their families. The DFA said the men were given 100,000 pesos in financial assistance each.

“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,” the DFA said.

Read: Filipinos acquitted of oil smuggling in Libya

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