U.S. ship crew challenge conviction

Updated - February 09, 2016 02:30 pm IST

Published - February 09, 2016 12:00 am IST - MADURAI:

Six British nationals, 14 Estonians, three Ukrainians and 12 Indians who were onboard U.S. anti-piracy vessel MV Seaman Guard Ohio have moved the Madras High Court Bench here challenging the conviction and five-year sentence imposed on them by a Thoothukudi Court on January 11 for entering Indian territorial waters illegally with a huge cache of arms and ammunition on October 12, 2013.

The appellants before the High Court Bench included the ship’s captain, M. Dudnik Valentyn (66), an Ukranian national, and its Tactical Deployment Officer F. Paul David Dennish Towers (52), a Briton. Denying the charge of having entered Indian waters illegally, they claimed that their vessel had got stranded on high seas since it ran out of diesel, when the Indian Coast Guard intercepted it.

Explaining the reason for not having given a distress call to the port authorities, the appellants said: “Running out of diesel is not a distress or perils of the sea warranting giving communication to the port authorities. In such circumstances, the captain will send communication to his owner who will arrange for diesel through his agent or advise the captain to procure diesel from another vessel in mid-sea.”

Further, they have not been accused of any kind of confrontation or untoward incident. A joint interrogation of the crew members by the Coast Guard, the Customs and other agencies did not reveal anything serious and hence the case was handed over to the Tharuvaikulam Marine police.

Claim that their vessel had got stranded on high seas as it ran out of diesel

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