The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) will consider the lawsuit of Ukraine on the immediate release of three Ukrainian vessels and 24 members of their crews in two weeks on April 29-30 as Ukrinform reported.
“According to the procedure, the hearing (on the lawsuit of Ukraine to Russia) should take place in two weeks after the filing of the appeal to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. In other words, on April 29-30. After the hearing, there will two weeks for the making of the decision,” Olena Zerkal, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine said.
Zerkal noted that the Russian side may try to delay the beginning of the hearings due to the Easter holidays but the hearing will take place not later than May 2-3.
“As ITLOS makes a decision, we expect for the immediate release and return to Ukraine of the sailors and ships within the applying of the temporary measures,” Zerkal added.
Besides, she reported that on April 23, the consultations between Ukraine and Russia can take place within the Ukrainian lawsuit to the International Court of Justice on the release of the Ukrainian vessels and captured sailors.
“But the fact of the holding or non-holding of these consultations does not influence the procedural actions,” Zerkal said.
According to her, Ukraine informed Russia on the beginning of the obligatory arbitration proceeding at ITLOS after “a few months of efforts, which aimed at the provision of the release of the military vessels and 24 members of their crews”.
“The Foreign Ministry used all diplomatic means of influence and we prepared all materials mentioned in our lawsuit to make the process to be more intensive,” she emphasized.
On November 25, the coast guard ships of the Russian Navy attacked the ships of the Ukrainian Navy, which have been carrying out a scheduled transition from Odesa port to Mariupol port in the Sea of Azov. Ukrainian ships were rejected passage via the Kerch Strait, Russian coast guards opened aimed fire on them.
All 24 sailors on board were captured and delivered to Moscow – 21 of them were delivered to Lefortovo remand center, the rest came to the hospital of Matrosskaya Tishina prison.
Facing an extension of the sentence term, Ukrainian POWs detained in the Kerch Strait refused to testify in Lefortovo court. Sailors were distributed into six groups, four people in each. On January 15, 2019, Moscow's Lefortovo district court decided to keep 20 Ukrainian sailors in remand until April 24. On January 16, the court extended the detention term for another 4 sailors.