Russian seamen in Nigeria could be released Monday

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MOSCOW, September 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russian seamen in a Nigerian jail on oil smuggling charges may be released Monday, the Russian Embassy in Lagos said by telephone Friday.

"All the documents for the release are ready. They are under consideration of the Nigerian side. The judge may decide on the release Monday," an embassy official said.

The official also said apartments with TV sets and washing machines had been prepared for the 12 seamen, part of Russia's trade representation in the region, using funds allocated by the Foreign Ministry.

A Nigerian patrol boat detained a Greek tanker, the African Pride, sailing under the Panamanian flag carrying the Russian seamen on October 8, 2003 near the Nigerian coast. Nigerian authorities said the ship had crude oil onboard. The Russian seamen were jailed for oil smuggling, but the Greek owner of the tanker managed to steer the vessel to another country.

The Russian seamen faced official charges in March 2004, five months after their arrest.

The Nigerian court ruled to free the seamen on Aug. 5 on the security of their passports and the guarantees of the Russian Embassy, but they still have not been released.

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