US ship crew granted bail

Following the delay of filing the charge sheet even after two months, a court in Tuticorin on Thursday released all the 35 members arrested from the American armed ship, Seaman Guard Ohio, on bail.

Except for 22 foreign crew members, who were shifted to Puzhal Central Prison near here will remain in Tuticorin till the charge sheet filed and investigation is thoroughly completed, Police sources said here.

On October 18, Tamil Nadu Police arrested 33 crew members and security personnel of the Seaman Guard Ohio, and a court sent all of them to 14 days’ judicial custody.

“The police had to file a charge sheet within 60 days of their arrest. But the police has not done that and hence the court granted the ship crew the bail,” Joseph Jawahar, advocate for the ship crew told reporters.

Madras High Court had recently dismissed bail petitions of crew members, who were arrested on charges of illegally carrying weapons on board the vessel and straying into Indian waters.

The ship is owned by a closely held American company AdvanFort. Police have also seized 35 weapons and 5,680 rounds of ammunition from the vessel.

The Coast Guard escorted the ship with 35 people (10 crew and 25 security guards) to Tuticorin port Oct 12.

The ship’s owner, AdvanFort, which specialises in providing maritime security against pirates, claimed the ship entered Indian waters to escape the fury of Cyclone Phailin.

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