Estonian ship guards imprisoned in India decide to appeal

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Photo: Tairo Lutter / Postimees

Estonian ship guards who were on Jan. 11 sentenced to prison for five years in India have decided to appeal the decision and at the same time submit a request to be released for bail, the Estonian Foreign Ministry said.

«Today the attorneys submitted the appeal application as well as the application for release for bail to the Madurai court,» spokesperson for the ministry Maria Belovas told BNS on Wednesday.

According to the ministry the attorneys visited the ship guards on Jan. 19 and received the signatures of all 14 Estonians on the applications.

According to the attorneys the time and date of the court hearing where releasing the Estonians for bail will be discussed would be determined later, probably in a month, the ministry said.

The decision to appeal means that the Estonians will not submit an appeal for pardon.

Police in India's southernmost state Tamil Nadu on Oct. 18, 2013 arrested 35 crew and security personnel on board the anti-piracy vessel Seaman Guard Ohio, including 14 Estonian citizens alongside Britons, Ukrainians and Indians. They were charged in December of the same year with illegal refueling, illegal handling of firearms and illegal entry into territorial waters, and released on bail in April 2014.

The high court of Tamil Nadu cleared all members of the crew and ship guards except for the captain of the charges in July of the same year but the Tamil Nadu police appealed the verdict in India's top court. The Supreme Court of India gave the Tamil Nadu court six months to handle the case when it referred it back to the lower-level court in June 2015. The Tuticorin court on Jan. 11 sentenced the anti-piracy guards to five years' imprisonment.