35 crew members of United States ship jailed sentenced for five years.

Flagship

The ship is owned by Virginia-based security company AdvanFort, but is registered in Sierra Leone.

The Judge acquitted eight others in connection with the case on the ground that the investigating officers had failed to establish their role in helping the crew enter the Indian waters.

Public prosecutor K. Sivakumar said the Modi-led central government had tried to persuade him to lessen the charges and show leniency.

Relations between India and Italy soured after a 2012 incident in which two Italian marines allegedly killed two Indian fishermen mistakenly believed to be pirates. Global shipping circles and governments have argued that such anti-piracy operations, including by private agencies like AdvanFort are legitimate and demanded that India take a more lenient view of these operations.

Subsequently, the Court had quashed the charges under the provisions of the Arms Act. Earlier, British Prime Minister David Cameron had asked visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and release six British ex army men who were detained in the case.

The vessel was escorted to the VOC Chi dambaranar Port in Tuticorin. The State Q branch police officials seized 35 firearms, 5682 ammunitions, 102 magazines, travel documents of the crew members and log-book from the impounded vessel.

It may be recalled that the ship’s crew was arrested on October 18, 2013 after their ship was stopped by Indian Coast Guard off Tuticorin port. The crew members were granted conditional bail by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court in March 2014.

“We will move High Court since the judgement was against us”.

On an appeal by the Tamil Nadu Police, the Supreme Court in 2015 set aside the high court judgment and ordered a trial by the Tuticorin sessions court.