Bail Granted to 33 Crew of US Anti-piracy Ship
More than five months after the Tamil Nadu police detained 35 crew members of an armed US anti-piracy ship MV Seaman Guard Ohio near the Tuticorin Port for trespassing into Indian waters, the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) on Wednesday granted bail to all but two of them.
The crew members including citizens of India, Britain, Ukraine and Estonia were arrested by the Thoothukudi Q Branch police on October 18 last year. The police had also seized 35 automatic weapons and nearly 5,700 rounds of ammunition from the ship.
Allowing the bail petition, Justice R S Ramanathan said: “The prosecution contention and the only apprehension is most of them are foreign nationals and it will be difficult to secure their presence. This cannot be accepted for the reason that the petitioners have already surrendered their passports and by imposing stringent conditions, it is not possible for the petitioners to escape from the eye of the law.”
Hence the judge granted them bail subject to execution of a bond for `2 lakh each with two sureties for a like sum. All crew members must stay in Chennai and sign at the Mylapore police station twice a day until further orders.
However, the judge dismissed the bail application of the ship captain Dudinik Valentyn and tactical deployment officer Paul David Dennis Towers, who was in charge of the arms in the ship holding that they were the Master of the Vehicle.