PRETORIA, January 9 (Itar-Tass) – Fifteen Russian sailors from the ship Myre Seadiver detained in Nigeria have been transferred to pretrial detention cells at a police station pending investigation.
The Russian crew was handed over to police on Monday, January 7, after the completion of a preliminary investigation. The ship and the arms remain under arrest.
“The police have taken over the custody of the 15 Russians because the navy does not have the power to prosecute them,” Nigerian Navy spokesperson Jerry Omodara said. The Nigerian authorities detained the Myre Seadiver in the second half of October 2012 in Lagos due to the absence of permission for its stay in the country’s territorial waters.
Omodara said the ship had left the Cook Islands in the South Pacific and entered Nigeria’s waters without permission.
In late December 2012, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the Nigerian authorities had decided to release the sailors. It said the decision had been prompted by the desire to “preserve the friendly atmosphere in bilateral relations with Russia and by humanitarian considerations”.
However, the fate of the ship is not clear. It is being held at the Navy’s Beecroft’s harbour in Apapa, Lagos, the coutnry’s economic capital and main seaport, pending the end of the investigation.
“We have to keep the ship because the police do not have the capacity to keep it. Both the vessel and weapons will be released as exhibits during the trial of the suspects,” Omodara said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said back then that “no official claims have been put forth so far either against the ship owner or the crew”.