Benin: Crew of Stranded Suspect Vessel Placed in Custody

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The judicial proceedings have commenced for the suspect vessel that ran aground over the weekend of June 29th near one of Cotonou’s most frequented beaches. The tugboat, named SPSL Udeme, and its crew were placed in custody on Monday, along with three senior Beninese officers. They are scheduled to be tried in mid-August for petroleum product trafficking.

On Monday evening, investigators presented about twenty individuals to the special prosecutor of Criet, Mario Métonou, who had previously established a commission of inquiry at the onset of the case. Métonou placed 18 individuals in provisional detention. According to reports, these individuals will be tried on August 14 for “trafficking petroleum products, unauthorized navigation, and abuse of office.” This includes all 14 crew members.

RFI has learned that two officers from the National Navy and one officer from the Beninese police have also been placed in custody in connection with the same case. The vessel had been labeled as suspicious and was recognized as an illegally operating ship in Nigeria, carrying only fuel.

The stranded vessel remains visible in the waters, easily seen from the Route des Pêches. The Beninese authorities had prioritized the extraction of the 250,000 liters of diesel onboard to prevent environmental pollution, which has now been completed.

Soukaina Sghir

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