Pirates in Togo have released 3 crew members of a Greek oil tanker seized in November, including 20-year-old Greek sailor Dimitris Giatis from Messolonghi, but a fourth member, a Filipino man, sadly died in captivity, the ship managers announced on Friday, December 13.
European Products Carriers Ltd said the 3 men "are safe and well, have had medical checks and are currently being debriefed by the local authorities prior to returning home to the Philippines, Greece, and Georgia respectively."
The young Greek sailor's family is overjoyed at the release of their son who has a health condition that requires daily medication and was taken hostage along with the other men on November 4, 2019.
Giatis’ father told Greek media “we can’t wait to see him and to just hold him in our arms.”
“I haven’t spoken to him yet and we are waiting for his visa to be finalised so we aren’t even sure of the exact day he is coming home but we expect it to be on Monday,” said Mr Giatis.
"It is with great sadness, however, that the managers must confirm that the fourth crew member, a Filipino national, kidnapped and held hostage, has died," the company said in a statement.
"A full investigation is underway into the situation, but it is understood that his demise was not as a result of any actions by those holding the crew hostage but due to illness," it added.
According to reports, "armed individuals" raided the Elka Aristotle tanker some 10 nautical miles off the coast of the capital Lome, even with guards trying to repel the raid.
West African waters have become one of the most dangerous maritime regions in the world.