All 35 crew members of US company-owned ship Seaman Guard, Ohio were arrested for illegally entering Indian territory with arms. In this regard, a Tuticorin judge sentenced them to five years rigorous imprisonement, on 11 January.
Tuticorin District Principal Sessions Court Judge N Rajasekar punished them under Sections 25 (1 A), 25 (1 B) (a) and 25 (1 B) (f) of IPC. A fine of Rs 3,000 was slapped on each the accused crew members. They comprised 12 Indians, three Ukrainians, six British and 14 Estonian nationals.
It may be recalled that the ship’s crew was arrested on October 18, 2013 after their ship was stopped by Indian Coast Guard off Tuticorin port. The crew members were granted conditional bail by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court in March 2014.
The Coast Guard personnel arrested the crew after they found arms being carried illegally on the in Indian waters off Tuticorin, a charge denied vehemently by the ship authorities.
They faced charges under the Arms Act and Essential Commodities Act. The ship belongs to the US-based company AdvanForta.
The Tharuvaikulam marine police filed the FIR on 12 October, 2013 and they were arrested on 18 October, 2013 The US company has been saying that the ship was engaged in anti-piracy operations and had not strayed into Indian waters.