Court reprieve for AdvanFort crew

A major reprieve for the 35 crew members of the US-based anti-piracy ship Seaman Guard Ohio

Court reprieve for 35 crew members of US floating armoury

TUTICORIN: In a major reprieve for the 35 crew members of the US-based anti-piracy ship Seaman Guard Ohio arrested on charges on entering Indian waters illegally with arms and ammunition, a court in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin granted them conditional bail on Thursday.

The bail has come after their petitions were dismissed twice in the last 60 days since their arrest, once by a court in Tuticorin and later by the high court bench in Madurai. The crew members are lodged in central prisons at Puzhalin Chennai and Palayamkottai in Tirunelveli. The court granted bail on a fresh petition filed by the crew, accepting their argument that chargesheet was not filed in the case even after 60 days had elapsed after their arrest.

Granting them bail, the court ordered that each of the crew furnish surety for Rs 10,000 for their release. It also ordered that the crew appear at the office of the Q branch police which is investigating the case and sign everyday.

Sunanda Bhagavathy, DSP, Q branch who is the investigation officer in the case declined to comment. “I am afraid I cannot comment on the issue,” she said.

But sources in the Q branch said the delay was primarily due to reluctance on the part of crew members to part with information during investigation. The crew members are yet to produce documents permitting them to possess weapons and the source of the huge cache of arms, sources said.

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