Russian authorities release Estonian vessel, captain still detained

The Roxen.
The Roxen. Source: FSB foto

Russian authorities released the Roxen, a fishing boat sailing under the Finnish flag that belongs to Estonian company Morobell. The boat was detained near the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. The captain of the vessel, an Estonian national, remained under house arrest.

"The Roxen was released [Tuesday] evening, but the captain remains under criminal investigation, for the time of which he has to stay at a hotel for a month, and touch base with authorities twice a day," Raivo Baum, member of the management board of Morobell, told ERR.

Baum added that Russian authorities have removed the vessel's navigation equipment as part of the ongoing investigation. While the captain remains in Russian custody, the boat has been released and will be directed to a dock in Denmark next.

Russian authorities have apparently initiated a criminal investigation, based on the suspicion that the Roxen's captain captain abused his position to knowingly enter the Russian economic zone. The case was previously investigated on an administrative basis.

Baum criticized the conduct of Russian authorities in the matter. In his opinion, the Russians are not adhering to their fisheries agreement with the European Union.

"It says in the agreement, signed by the European Union and the Russian Federation, that in case of violations such as this, the bail has to be reasonable and the vessel along with its crew must immediately be released. By now we've been docked here for nearly two months, the size of the bail is not reasonable, and the captain has not been released either," Baum said. He added that the Roxen's crew were offered better treatment in exchange for making false statements.

Morobell already paid for the release of the boat after bail was set at €720,000.

Russian authorities detained the boat and its crew on May 10 this year. The Roxen belongs to Morobell, the shipper is based in Haapsalu. The ship's crew is accused of having illegally fished in the Russian economic zone. According to Baum, the boat got off course due to an equipment failure, and his people fished on Russian territory for some two hours.


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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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