The front office manager of a three-star hotel at Mylapore, Chennai, filed an intervening application in the Madras High Court Bench here on Tuesday and objected to quashing of a case filed by the ‘Q’ Branch police in October last against 35 crew members of the U.S. anti-piracy ship, MV Seaman Guard Ohio, on charges of entering Indian waters without disclosing arms and ammunition in its possession.
Counsel for the intervening petitioner, R. Gandhi, contended that 33 of the 35 crew members had been staying in the hotel ever since they were granted bail by the High Court in March this year on condition that they stay in Chennai and appear before the Mylapore police every day. As on date, they had to settle bills to the tune of Rs. 8.10 lakh.
“Many of the hotels in Chennai refused them accommodation since most of them were foreigners involved in a criminal case in our country. But we sympathised with them and let them stay in our hotel. Now, we are left in the lurch as there is every chance of the foreigners flying away to their countries if the case against them was quashed,” he contended before Justice P.N. Prakash.
Among those on bail, six were British nationals, 14 Estonians, one Ukrainian and twelve Indians. The vessel’s captain, M. Dudnik Valentyn, 64, an Ukrainian national, and its tactical deployment officer F. Paul David Dennish Towers, 50, a British national, were still in jail as their bail applications were dismissed by the High Court as well as a lower court.
Contesting the plea, counsel for the crew members said they had to stay in India for so long because the prosecution had been prolonging the hearing in the quash petition by taking numerous adjournments since April.