A court in the Atlantic archipelago of Cape Verde off the coast of West Africa has convicted the Russian captain and crew of a cargo ship of drug trafficking and sentenced them to long prison terms.
"All the defendants were aware of the narcotic drug placed on the vessel and acted with intent, freely and consciously, in exchange for economic benefit," Judge Angela Rodrigues read in a court judgment on February 28.
Cape Verde authorities said the cargo ship was caught in February 2019 with the biggest cocaine haul ever seized in the country -- some 9.5 tons.
The ship was traveling to Morocco from South America when it docked at the port of Praia for legal reasons following the death of a crew member.
Captain Sergei Kotlovsky testified that he had been forced to take the drugs on board in the Caribbean by the ship's owner and that the 10 crew members were not aware of the cargo.
Kotlovsky received a 12-year sentence for international drug trafficking, while crew members received 10 years each. They were acquitted of a second charge of criminal association.
The defense lawyer, Martinho Landim, said he would appeal the decision.
Cape Verde Court Convicts Russian Ship Captain, Crew Of Drug Trafficking