Seychelles repatriates 8 Iranian sailors whose drug trafficking charges were dropped
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(Seychelles News Agency) - Eight Iranian nationals who were released by the Seychelles Supreme Court last year were repatriated on Monday evening, the Department of Immigration said.
Charges of importation and trafficking of drugs against the Iranians had been withdrawn based on evidence presented in court in October last year.
The eight Iranians and three others were arrested on board a dhow, a type of sailing vessel common to the Gulf Arab states, in mid-April 2016, following a joint operation by the Seychelles Coast Guard and the National Drugs Enforcement Agency (NDEA).
The three other Iranian nationals, the captain, the son of the ship’s owner and a sailorare still on remand, as the prosecution has maintained the charges.
The sailors were charged with two counts of importing and trafficking of controlled drugs, including heroin and opium. At the time of their arrest, the NDEA had said that although registered as a fishing vessel, no fish were found during the search and there was no evidence that the fishing lines found had been used.
The eleven Iranians were charged by the Seychelles judicial system with various offences related to controlled drugs, but due to insufficient evidence, charges were dropped against eight of them.
At the time of their arrest, the anti-narcotics agency of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, had said it is not known where the vessel was coming from. It is believed that the drugs originated from the Makran Coast, between Iran and Pakistan, a route used to transport narcotics destined for the East African coast, and was destined for Tanzania.