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Estonian seamen detained in India face official charges

  • 2014-01-06
  • From wire reports, TALLINN

The release of 14 Estonian seamen who spent over two months in an jail in India has been in doubt, however, the men have at least now been read formal charges.

The Foreign Ministry confirmed to uudised.err.ee that the men were formally charged on December 30, but the Estonian ambassador said their lawyers have not seen the charges and efforts continue to center on getting the men out.

Estonian Ambassador to India Viljar Lubi told ERR radio that the court did not come to a decision on the release of the seamen after hearing both sides, but this is expected on Monday. However, the guarantee has already been paid.

As reported, in December, an Indian court had ruled that the crew members of the anti-piracy vessel Seaman Guard Ohio, including 14 seamen of Estonian origin would have to be released on bail.

It was stated that the bail was set at 10,000 rupees (118 euros) per person. The newspaper Times of India reported that the release on bail was mandated because no charges had been filed against the crew members and security guards within 60 days after arrest.

The crew of Seaman Guard Ohio was detained on October 12 near the coast of Tuticorin in the southern part of India. According to Indian authorities, the armed vessel entered Indian territorial waters unlawfully. AdvanFort, the company operating the anti-piracy protection services, denies the accusations.