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  Thursday, February 2, 2023
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A Nigerian court postponed the next hearing in trial of Russian sailors until December 14
A Nigerian court postponed the next hearing in trial of Russian sailors until December 14, well-known public figure, UNESCO goodwill ambassador Ara Abramyan told Itar-Tass on Tuesday. Abramyan said Nigeria's judicial authorities had taken the pause to "correct technical faults in the legal procedure." Earlier, lawyers told Abramyan that the court would review the Russian sailors' case together with the case of three foreigners - two Romanians and one Georgian - who were among the crew of the African Pride, a Panamanian-flagged vessel arrested on suspicion of oil contraband. "The postponement for such a long period is also explained by the fact that the judges handling the case should be taking part in the conference of judges from African countries these days," Abramyan said. The envoy expressed the hope that the Russian sailors, despite the delays, will see the New Year in with their families in Russia. "We are making the necessary efforts for it," he said. The hearing of the case was to have taken place on Tuesday. The case has been dragging on since the spring of 2004. The tanker African Pride, which sailed under the Panamanian flag and belonged to the Greek company Azora Service, was detained on suspicion of shipping stolen oil. The team consisted of 12 Russians, two Romanians, and one Georgian. The tanker was seized 31 miles from Nigeria’s coast in October 2003. The case was repeatedly postponed due to various reasons, including technical ones, and prosecutors' appeals. The Russian sailors spent about two years in pre-trial detention and were released on bail on September 12 with assistance from Russia’s known public figure, UNESCO goodwill ambassador Ara Abramyan. They have been living on the premises of the Russian trade mission since, awaiting the court's final ruling. The case sped up after Abramyan hired a new lawyer, Tunji Abayomi, and sent his personal representative Dmitry Yeryutin to Lagos.
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