Supreme Court of India ends debate in Estonian ship guards' case

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Photo: Tairo Lutter

The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday ended the debate in the case of the 14 Estonian maritime guards held in India since October 2013 after hearing the arguments of their defense and is expected to pronounce its judgement soon.

The Indian top court on Tuesday heard all the arguments presented by the lawyer the Estonian Foreign Ministry hired to represent the ship guards and ended the debate, Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus said in social media. There will be no more hearings in the case and the court will announce its decision in the next few weeks.

«A step forward in the story of the men waiting for return home in India,» the minister said on Facebook. «We are waiting.»

The Foreign Ministry hired senior advocate Aryama Sundaram to represent the ship guards before the Supreme Court of India. The first hearing in the case on April 10 started with Sundaram's defense speech, after which the court heard also the lawyer for the company AdvanFort, the men's employer, and the prosecutor of the Tamil Nadu State.

In mid-April a court in Madurai ruled to return personal belongings to the ship guards but postponed discussion of the possible return of the men's documents pending the decision of the Supreme Court.

The police of India's southernmost state Tamil Nadu arrested the crew and armed security personnel including 14 Estonian guards on board the anti-piracy vessel Seaman Guard Ohio on Oct. 18, 2013. They were charged in December and released on bail in April 2014.

The high court of Tamil Nadu in July cleared all members of the crew and ship guards except for the captain of charges of illegally carrying weapons. The Tamil Nadu police appealed against the ruling in the Supreme Court at the end of August.

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