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MOSCOW, February 16 (Itar-Tass) – The Russian Foreign Ministry hopes that “the judicial postponement in the case of Russian sailors, currently under arrest in Nigeria, will be the last one before what it described as a fundamental positive turn in the fate of innocent fellow citizens.
The Foreign Ministry issued this statement after the magistrate court of Lagos State ruled the fifteen Russian sailors – all crew-members of the Moran Security Group’s ship Myre Seadiver – will further stand trial in the federal court of a higher instance. The sailors have been under arrest in Nigeria since October 2012.
“The most absurd charges against the Russians have been lifted,” the Foreign Ministry said. “As a result they have been accused on two counts – illegal penetration into the country's territory and illegal possession of firearms.”
Also, the Foreign Ministry said that the federal court would also consider a request for the release the Russians, currently kept in custody, against the guarantees of the Russian embassy in Nigeria. A decision is expected on February 19.
“It is to be hoped that this postponement will be the last one before a fundamental positive change in the fate of our fellow citizens who are ‘guilty without guilt,’ and the Nigerian judicial system will be able to do what the authorities of that country have been hesitant to do – to recognize the groundlessness of the charges against citizens of a state that has more than once proved with action its friendly attitude to Nigeria and its readiness to extend a helping hand,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.