HC dismisses bail plea of US crew ship

Posted By: PTI
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Tamil Nadu
Madurai, Dec 18: Madras High Court today dismissed bail petitions of 35 crew members of a US ship, who were arrested on charges of illegally carrying weapons on board the vessel and straying into Indian waters.

The crew members of the ship MV Seeman Ohio were arrested on October 18 by Tamil Nadu Police, after it was intercepted by Coast Guard. They were booked under Arms Act and Essential Commodities Act.

The ship crew was also accused of illegal purchase of diesel from local agents. Justice M Sathyanarayanan of the Madurai bench of the court granted bail to V Selvam, who was arrested along with five others for illegally providing 1,500 litres of diesel to the ship.

However, the anticipatory bail plea of Munithevan, who was also accused in the supply of diesel, was denied by the judge. The captain of the ship, Dudinik Valentyn, nine other crew members and 25 guards of the ship in their bail plea had alleged that the vessel was "asked to come to the port for taking shelter to escape from the cyclonic weather conditions in the Bay of Bengal.

"On reaching the port, as many as 25 officials from eight different agencies barged into the anti-piracy vessel and confined all the 35 crew and falsely claimed ...they intercepted the vessel on October 12."

The counsel for the crew contended that based on the Doctrine of Innocent Passage as envisaged in Section 3 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea-1982, no charge could be levelled against the crew.

Twenty-two foreign nationals among the crew are lodged in the Chennai Puzhal Central prison, while another from UK and 12 Indians are in the Palayalamkottai Central Prison in Tirunelveli.


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