6 February 2006
Latest news on Arkhangelsk Trawler Fleet case by Interfax

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Spanish court rules for Russians seeking return of seized trawlers

The Spanish courts, acting on a request filed by Russian lawyers, have impounded three fishing trawlers that had earlier been confiscated from their Russia owners.

"Yegorov, Puginsky, Afanasyev and Partners", a law firm representing Russia's interests in the search for and seizure of the trawlers, said in a statement released on Monday that "the search for the illegally seized trawlers was a success."

"They [the trawlers] were found and impounded in Spanish ports.

However, the lawyers have yet to defend the legality of the Russian ownership of the three vessels - Captain Kononov, Juozas Aleksonis and Trawlmeister Mogurov - in court, the statement says.

In June 2004, the trawlers, owned by Arkhangelsk Trawler Fleet, a company owned by the Federal State Property Management Agency, were arrested in Mauritania while fishing there.

"The reason for the arrest was a lawsuit filed by a Mauritanian firm, Societe de Promotion de la Peche (SPP), accusing Arkhangelsk Trawler Fleet of failing to repay $13 million it allegedly owed to the firm. SPP representatives furnished documents confirming the debt's existence but, as it turned out during the subsequent investigation, the documents were forged," the statement says.

Despite the latter circumstance, the trawlers came into the possession of Mauritanian businessmen Abass Bugurbal. Investigators speculated that Bugurbal may have high-ranking friends in Russia.

The arrest of the trawlers is a major step in upholding the rights and interests of the Russian Federation, the lawyers said.