Statement from The Mission to Seafarers The Seaman Guard Ohio Crew Found Guilty
This morning we have heard from families of the crew of the guilty verdict in the case of the Seaman Guard Ohio. 35 crewmen including 6 British nationals have been sentenced to 5 years in prison on charges of carrying illegal arms, illegal refuelling and unlawfully entering Indian waters off the coast of Tuticorin on 18 October 2013. They have been held in India ever since and have vehemently protested their innocence. The men and families are deeply shocked and devastated at this decision and are stunned that the evidence has not irrefutably proven that the men were acting legally under international maritime law. The SGO is an anti-piracy support ship that carries crew and guards to protect merchant shipping.
Ken Peters, Director of Justice and Public Affairs, The Mission to Seafarers, said "I am horrified and filled with anguish at this decision which is deeply unfair and unjust. These men are seafarers but it seems the court did not accept the basic fact that the ship was and is an anti-piracy vessel. The men carried arms in accordance with international maritime law for the purpose of ensuring the merchant fleet was protected properly from the very real risk of pirate attacks and hijack. The men have already suffered so much so this is a terrible outcome. It is beyond belief. We understand that the men's defence team are examining the possibility of an appeal.”