An Indian Court has ordered five years of imprisonment for the crew of a private American ship including 25 foreigners.
The crew members of the private American ship carrying 25 foreign nationals and 10 Indians were arrested in 2013. The crew was accused for failing to produce papers authorising them to carry weapons in India’s territorial waters. The court ordered five years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs.3000($45) for each crew member.
The crew has already spent nine months in prison after the incident in 2013. They were out on bail but not allowed to leave India.
The accused crew argues that cargo ships often travel with armed guards to deter pirates. This ship was operated by a U.S. maritime security firm and the incident highlights the loosely regulated practice of placing guards on ships for protection against pirate attacks.
The convicts include foreign nationals from Ukraine, Estonia and six British former soldiers. Paul Towers, a former British soldier and a convict claims that the weapons that they carried were all properly registered. He added that, “We are speaking to our consulate… this is not justice.”
“Our staff in India and the UK have been in close contact with all six men since their arrest to provide support to them and their families, including attending court,” said the British high commission. It also added that they are providing consular assistance but could not interfere in another country’s judicial process.
The Ukrainian and Estonian embassies have no comment on this regard.