Maritime News

India frees Seaman Guard Ohio crew

1 December 2017

An Indian court has lifted the prison sentences on 35 crew members and guards on board an anti-piracy patrol vessel who were arrested in 2013.

The seafarers and guards on board the USA-owned, Sierra Leone-flagged Seaman Guard Ohio were detained on gun charges after their ship entered Indian waters to shelter from a cyclone. Although the ship was authorised by UK authorities to carry firearms as part of its anti-piracy work, all 35 men were convicted of weapons charges in January 2016 and received five-year prison sentences.

After a long campaign, involving the ITF as well as the men’s family, friends and supporters, the appeal court in Madurai acquitted all 35 on 28 November; the ITF had funded the appeal on their behalf.

Praising the role of the ITF and its affiliates, Abdulgani Y Serang, general secretary cum treasurer of the National Union of Seafarers of India, said the international solidarity made it possible for the 35 men to be freed and reunited with their families.

The crew members and guards came from Estonia, Great Britain, India and Ukraine, and included seafarers and former military personnel.

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