Fourteen Ukrainian sailors, the full crew of the oil tanker Ruta, have returned home after spending three years in a Libyan prison.
They were charged with smuggling petroleum products from Libya.
A special flight chartered by the Ukrainian government for the sailors landed at Boryspil International Airport, outside Kyiv.
The Ukrainian News Agency quoted President Volodymyr Zelensky as saying that he was pleased with the return of the citizens.
He thanked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose efforts succeeded in securing the release
of the sailors after months of negotiations.
The tanker Ruta, registered in Odessa, was detained in Libyan waters in April 2017 on charges of oil smuggling.
The 14-member crew was jailed in the country’s capital, Tripoli. In May 2020, the Ukrainian nationals were reported to have gone on hunger strike, demanding that they be allowed to return home.
After years of pressure by charities, diplomats, and activists a Tripoli court finally ruled to allow the
crew to leave the country.
The crew was transported to the city of Misurata, some 450 kilometers east of Tripoli, before being returned to Kyiv.