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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 October, 2004, 17:20 GMT 18:20 UK
Nigeria officers in tanker trial
An oil tanker
The theft of the tanker prompted public outrage
Three Nigerian naval officers have appeared in a military court in Lagos charged with the disappearance of a tanker carrying stolen oil.

The African Pride tanker was impounded last year but disappeared in August while in navy custody.

It had then reappeared - repainted and operated by a Russian crew.

The Nigerian government says it looses thousands of barrels of oil every day to thieves who siphon off oil from pipelines in the Niger Delta.

Case adjourned

Members of the national assembly had staged sit-ins over the missing tanker.

The defence team on Thursday questioned the bias of the court's president.

They also said as two members of the seven-strong jury were junior to the officers by two days, they could not make judgement on their seniors.

But Judge Rear-Admiral Joseph Ajayi dismissed the objections.

The prosecution asked for more time to prepare their case against the officers.

The trial has been adjourned until 1 November.

The 13 Russian crew members are being tried by the Federal High Court.

It is the first time members of the military have been charged with colluding with oil thieves.

Nigeria is Africa's largest oil exporter.

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