November 27, 2017
Image credit : Illustrative Image
The Madras High Court on Monday set free all the sailors of US ship MV Seaman Guard Ohio- that includes Indians, British, Ukranians and Estonians.
“The prosecution failed to prove its charge. The Court has set all the accused free,” P.Muthusamy, counsel for the four Indian crew of the ship said.
The prosecution had charged that the ship and its crew and security guards were in Indian waters with unlicensed arms.
The petitioners lawyer said the court held that the prosecution chares were not proved beyond doubt.
With its decision, the High Court has set aside the 2016 decision of a local court in Tuticorin that sentenced the accused to five year prison term.
A court in Tuticorin in 2016 had awarded five-year jail terms to 10 crew and 2 security guards abroad the ship.
With this the court has set aside the 2016 sentence of a Tuticorin court that awarded five-year jail terms to 10 crew and 25 security guards aboard an American ship MV Seaman Guard Ohio. The court also levied a fine of Rs.3,000 each.
The ship was seized by authorities in Indian waters in 2013.
It was flying the flag of West African country Sierra Leone. The ship was owned by Seaman AdvanFort, an US company specializing in maritime security was in Indian waters in October 2013 night around 15 nautical miles from Tuticorin port.
The Indian Coast Guard escorted the ship to Tuticorin port.
The coast guard said the
US ship’s crew included eight Indians and two Ukrainians while six Britishers, 14 Estonians, one Ukrainian and four Indians. L
They were arrested as the ship was moving with arms and ammunition without valid authorisation or documents.
In 2014, the Madras High Court dismissed the charges against the crew and armed guards.
However the court reaffirmed charges against the ship’s captain and the fuel vendors.
The apex court in 2015, set aside the High Court’s order on an appeal by Tamil Nadu police and ordered trial by the court in Tuticorin.