A High Court in India has dropped the charges against the crew and guards from a US-based private security ship 8 months after the legal battle began.
Washington, D.C.-based security firm Advanfort reports that the Madras High Court has quashed charges against the 35-member crew of the security ship MV Seaman Guard Ohio after the court could not substantiate any of the claims against them.
The Indian Attorney General filed a “First Information Report” against the crew and guards of the vessel for unauthorized entrance into Indian waters while being in the possession of firearms on October 13, 2013.
Following their detention, AdvanFort moved to the High Court in an effort to get the charges dropped, contending that the ship was arrested while it was outside the Indian territorial waters and that the ship only aimed to refuel after the strong cyclone Phailin caused the vessel to be nearly out of fuel. Advantfort also maintained that all the firearms on board were legally purchased and properly documented.
According to the Seaman Guard Ohio crew’s counsel, the FIR that was filed against the 35 men and their employer AdvanFort has been quashed by the High Court after finding out that the claims were not true. Meanwhile, the bunkering charge against the captain can now be bailed.
Last March, 33 out of the 35 guards have been released from prison on bail conditions that they stay in Chennai, India to make an appearance before the Mylapore police every day. The captain and the tactical deployment officer of the vessel had remained in prison since then as their bail applications were dismissed by the High Court and a lower court.
“This has been a long waited for decision and we’d like to thank everyone who had continuous faith in us, offered support and helped us get through this challenge”, said AdvanFort CEO Sam Farajallah.