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Updated: September 12, 2013 08:52 IST

Relief for German sailors

Staff Reporter
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The German sailors who are allowed to go home in Chennai on Wednesday.
Photo: K_Pichumani The German sailors who are allowed to go home in Chennai on Wednesday.

Two German sailors of the cargo vessel M. V. Grietje left the country early on Wednesday. They were allowed to leave the country following their acquittal recently by a city court from the case registered against them in March last in connection with an unidentified ship hitting a fibre boat carrying fishermen from Kasimedu here on March 16.

Expressing relief over the development, Michael Steiner, German Ambassador to India said, “I always had full trust in the Indian judicial system. This has proven right. I am happy to see that the two German sailors are finally going back home to their families.”

In last March, Wolfgang Albrecht, the vessel’s Master, and Steffen Hinfoth, Chief Mate, were arrested and produced by the Fishing Harbour police before the XVI Metropolitan Magistrate, George Town. They were immediately let out on conditional bail by the Magistrate as the charge alleged against them was bailable. For the past five months, they were staying in Chennai as per condition of the court while the detained ship was released by the court. On March 16 at 4.30 am, three fishermen were engaged in repairing their boat after it developed a snag, when a cargo ship hit their boat. Two of them reached the shore with the help of another boat, while Anandan drowned. M.V. Grietje, flying the flag of Antigua Barbuda, was alleged to have passed through the way. Hence, there was suspicion that the vessel could have been involved in the accident. Hence, the police charged two sailors for the offence under Section 304(A) (causing death by negligence) of Indian Penal code and sixteen persons were cited as witnesses.

The court acquitted them of the case recently holding that the charge against them was not proved as the witnesses turned hostile in the case. The court also ordered the authorities to return their pass ports. They have been waiting for exit permit from Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO) for their return. After obtaining such permits on Tuesday, they were allowed to leave the country.

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