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'Devastated' crew of Seaman Guard Ohio could wait six months for trial to start

'Devastated' crew of Seaman Guard Ohio could wait six months for trial to start
It could take up to six months for the trial in India of the crew of Seaman Guard Ohio to begin, following a reversal of the judgement a year earlier that they have no charges to answer.

The crew of 25 privately contracted armed security personnel and 10 seafarers has so far been held in India for 625 days without trial. With Supreme Court Judge in Delhi referring the case back to the Magistrate Court in Tuticorin, to go to full trial, The Missions to Seafarers, warned it could take up to six months for the trial to begin, and described it as “grave news” to the men.

Paul Towers, from the Seaman Guard Ohio said they were “taking urgent advice to understand the reasons for our case being referred back to the original court who imprisoned us, which is the Magistrate Court in Tuticorin”.

“Obviously after long sleepless nights this week, we were devastated to hear that the Supreme Court has upheld the Prosecution appeal, after spending 21 months in India ourselves. Our families are beyond broken, both financially and mentally; to see my wife in tears is heart-breaking.”

The crew are accused of bringing weapons into Indian territory without proper paperwork in October 2013.

“The British maritime contractors have world recognized credentials to complete our duty for any shipping company. These credentials meet the International Maritime Organization and Maritime Coast Guard Authority (MCA) requirements and all shipping company requirements for the use of Private maritime security companies (PMSC) operating with privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP), holding approved Seamens’ Cards and Discharge Books, Maritime Fire Arms Competency Certificates and who undertake Criminal Records Checks every six months,” Towers said.

“To be told these documents are worthless outside of the UK and to be treated like common criminals, is surely a gross abuse of our human rights, as indicated in the March 2015 by the Human Rights At Sea (HRAS) charity case study document which was issued to the press.”