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The Russian Foreign Minister said Friday that he had sent a letter to his Nigerian counterpart asking him to bring forward the trial of the Russian sailors.
MOSCOW, July 15 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Foreign Minister said Friday that he had sent a letter to his Nigerian counterpart asking him to bring forward the trial of the Russian sailors.
After talks with the Kenyan foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov said, "I have sent another message to my Nigerian colleague reminding him of the very productive conversation we had last month and asking him to take urgent measures to resolve the situation," Lavrov said, before adding, "The situation is becoming unbearable."
Lavrov said, "I am deeply dissatisfied [that the trial of the Russian sailors had been postponed again] because last month my Nigerian colleague promised me when he was in Moscow that the Nigerian authorities would do everything possible to keep the process rolling. I understand the principle of the division of power but the indefinite delays of the trial of the Russian sailors who are largely not to blame for the actions of their fugitive captain are becoming simply inhumane," Lavrov said.
The minister said that the Russian sailors could not be held responsible for the actions of the ship's captain and owners who could be found guilty of the offences ascribed to the Russian crew.
The 12 Russian sailors have been in a Nigerian prison for almost two years now. The Nigerian authorities seized the Greek tanker African Pride, which was sailing under a Panama flag, and the Russian crew was arrested on suspicion of smuggling crude oil.
The Russian sailors were initially kept in reasonably acceptable conditions at a military base in Lagos. But then they were put in a high security prison in the suburbs of Lagos. They are now also accused of the theft of the ship, which it seems was organized by the Greek owner of the ship, who is now on the run.
The charges brought against the Russian sailors carry life sentences. The Russians deny any wrongdoing.
The health of many of the sailors has seriously deteriorated during their time in prison in Nigeria.
On Thursday, the Nigerian court delayed the court hearing until October. It did not give a reason for the postponement.
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