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Embassy officials meet crew of detained ship

Special Correspondent
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They enquired about facilities in prison, according to sources

Officials of British and Estonian Embassies about to enter Palayamkottai Central Prison to meet their nationals lodged in the jail.Photo: A.SHAIKMOHIDEEN
Officials of British and Estonian Embassies about to enter Palayamkottai Central Prison to meet their nationals lodged in the jail.Photo: A.SHAIKMOHIDEEN

Senior officials attached to the British and Estonian Embassies met their nationals lodged at Palayamkottai Central Prison on Monday.

The Tamil Nadu ‘Q’ Branch police arrested them last Friday from the US-based ship ‘Seaman Guard Ohio’ for allegedly sailing into Indian waters without proper permission on October 12.

After the ship was detained by Indian Coast Guard Ship Naikidevi with 10 crew members and 25 guards with arms and ammunitions and brought to V.O. Chidambaranar Port in Tuticorin, the ‘Q’ Branch police arrested 33 of them, including 14 Estonians, 12 Indians, six Britons and one Ukrainian.

The ‘Q’ Branch police later arrested the master of the ship Dudnik Valentyn and engineer Sidorenko Valeriy also. All of them have been lodged at Palayamkottai Central Prison.

Against this backdrop, senior officials of British Embassy Petula James and Rhona Royle and Estonian Embassy official Margus Sarglepp met their nationals in the prison on Monday and had a discussion with a few of them for nearly two hours since 10.30 a.m. The Embassy officials, who entered the prison in a hired vehicle, left the jail premises without speaking to the waiting reporters.

Sources in the Palayamkottai Central Prison said the officials enquired with them about the facilities being extended to the foreign nationals inside the prison. “They also discussed about expediting the legal formalities to get bail on an early note,” the sources said.

Meanwhile, the prison officials counselled Sidorenko Valeriy, engineer of the detained ship, after he, out of mental depression, was reportedly found to be incoherent on Monday morning and threatened to commit suicide. “He neither made any attempt to commit suicide nor threatened that he would do so. Since Mr. Valeriy was repeatedly telling that he would end his life, he was immediately given counselling, which consoled him a lot,” said R. Kanagaraj, Superintendent of Palayamkottai Central Prison.

He said the best possible facilities with utmost cleanliness were being extended to foreign prisoners considering their health conditions.

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