The Mission to Seafarers (MtS), which has been supporting the crew of the Seaman Guard Ohio, has expressed outrage at the five-year jail sentences handed down by an Indian court on Monday.
The crew of 25 private security personnel and 10 seafarers were sentenced to five years “rigorous imprisonment” by a Tuticorin court on Monday for illegally entering Indian waters with weapons in October 2013.
“I am horrified and filled with anguish at this decision which is deeply unfair and unjust,” stated Ken Peters, MtS director of justice and public affairs.
“These men are seafarers but it seems the court did not accept the basic fact that the ship was and is an anti-piracy vessel. The men carried arms in accordance with international maritime law for the purpose of ensuring the merchant fleet was protected properly from the very real risk of pirate attacks and hijack.”
The High Court of Madras dropped all charges against the men in July 2014, however, they were not allowed to leave India pending an appeal.
“The men have already suffered so much so this is a terrible outcome. It is beyond belief. We understand that the men’s defence team are examining the possibility of an appeal,” Peters added.
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