The Coastal Security Group of the Tamil Nadu police on Sunday night registered a case against 35 persons, including several foreign nationals, who were on board M.V. Seaman Guard Ohio that was detained.

Based on a report of the Coast Guard, the Marine Police booked the crew and guards of the vessel under the provisions of the Arms Act 1956, Essential Commodities Act 1955 and Motor Spirit and High Speed Diesel (Regulation of Supply, Distribution and Prevention of Malpractices), Order 2005, police sources said.

While asking the Central Industrial Security Force to take custody of the vessel, the police told the V.O. Chidambaranar Port in Tuticorin, where the vessel has been detained, to restrict its movement.

A request was made to the Customs Superintendent to seize the weapons/ammunition and investigate.

Embassies

informed

Since the US, UK, Estonian and Ukranian nationals were among the accused, steps were taken to inform the respective embassies, the sources said.

Possession of ammunition

The Coast Guard had intercepted the Sierra Leone flagged-vessel and escorted it to the Port on Saturday. Besides sophisticated weapons, the guards were in possession of 5,724 rounds of ammunition.

“Prima facie, it appears that they ran out of fuel and bought 10 barrels of diesel with the help of some agents. Their company – AdvanFort – based in the US has not provided any documents authorising their presence in Indian waters,” an investigator told The Hindu .

Joint probe

No decision was taken to arrest any of the suspects yet, though all the 45 of them were named in the FIR. A joint investigation team comprising the Intelligence Bureau, Navy, Customs, ‘Q’ Branch CID, and others were interrogating them, the sources said.

On the detention of the crew and others, Commandant S.E.D. Anand Kumar, ICGS, Tuticorin Station, did not elaborate on the reasons. “Until investigation is completed nothing can be revealed,” he said.

When contacted, Tuticorin Superintendent of Police M. Durai said the crew had valid documents to hold weapons, but the investigating agencies were ascertaining whether the vessel could be legally allowed to sail into Indian waters.

Though The Hindu tried to get an official version from AdvanFort’s Washington DC office, the officials at the emergency and operational centre only took contact details of this correspondent and promised to get back.

However, they did not get back on the issue. ‘Seaman Guard Ohio’ is part of the counter-piracy fleet of AdvanFort.


  • Police ask Customs department to seize weapons

  • No decision taken on arresting the suspects


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