Fourteen sailors from the Ruta ship, who spent more than three years in a Libyan prison, returned to Ukraine. These are inhabitants of Odesa, Kherson and Mykolaiv areas.

The men were taken to Boryspil International Airport on a special flight. The President of Ukraine congratulated them on their return home. He also thanked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Security Service of Ukraine, as well as all those who helped for the successful work.

According to the press service of Sailors and Migrant Workers Assistance Fund Assol, the state of health of all those released is satisfactory, although last month the seafarers went on a hunger strike to defend their rights.

“All this time, relatives and Assol had besieged all the authorities on which the fate of the sailors depended, and have held pickets several times near the Presidential Administration and the Libyan embassy in Ukraine. They addressed the Prime Minister of the Government of National Consent, the Head of the Presidential Council of the State of Libya. In Ukraine – appeals to various ministries and departments, repeatedly with the support of MPs voiced the problem during the sittings of the Verkhovna Rada,” said in a statement.

It will be recalled that in 2017, the Libyan military with weapons detained two ships, including the Ukrainian tanker Ruta, where 14 of our citizens were. The entire crew was arrested on charges of smuggling oil. The vessel belongs to Ukraine and is on the balance of the Odesa seaport.

“The investigation ended 8 months after the arrest. They had no trial or sentence, only incriminating articles. All 14 crew members were in a cramped cell, had to sleep in turn. Conditions of detention and constant psychological pressure affected the health of seafarers. Two contracted hepatitis. Several others have exacerbated chronic diseases,” the charity said.

Amnesty has been announced in Libya over the coronavirus epidemic, leaving only dangerous criminals, including terrorists, in prisons. But the members of the crew of Ruta as of May, no court verdict.

Bohdan Marusyak

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