MOSCOW, July 10 (RIA Novosti) - A Nigerian court postponed until October 8 the trial of the remaining seven of the 15 Russian sailors who were arrested near the West African country’s coast in October 2012 on arms smuggling charges.
In mid-June, eight of the arrested Russian sailors were acquitted by a Nigerian court and returned to Russia. All 15 sailors belonged to the crew of the MV Myre Seadiver vessel owned by Moscow-based security firm Moran Security Group. The other seven are in the Russian Embassy's compound in Lagos awaiting the court decision, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said.
On Tuesday, a spokesman for Moran Security Group said that Nigeria had decided to postpone the hearings for a three-month period as the court “needed extra time to study the case materials.”
“It is unclear how the situation will develop further, as the Nigerian side has taken a pause,” he added.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement late on Tuesday that Moscow was “deeply disappointed” with the decision of the Nigerian court.
“We proceed from the assumption that after the detailed study of the case materials, Nigerian justice will finally acquit all the Russian sailors,” the statement from the ministry said.
Nigerian authorities detained the Myre Seadiver ship with the Russian crew in the port of Lagos on October 19 last year after finding weapons, including 14 Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles and some 8,000 rounds of ammunition, on board.
Moran Security said the arsenal was designed to ensure protection against pirates, who often attack ships along the Nigerian coast.
The Myre Seadiver is an auxiliary vessel used to support maritime oil extraction and transport operations. The owner earlier said the vessel had been authorized to make a port call in Lagos three weeks before its arrival and had all the necessary documents declaring the presence of weapons on board.
Updated with details of the seven in Nigeria.