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US ship crew under arrest; arms seized
India justifies detention, says vessel was carrying weapons, ammunition without authorisation

Strayed into Indian waters

  • The Tamil Nadu Police arrested the crew of MV Seaman Guard Ohio on charges of illegally carrying arms and ammunition and straying into Indian territorial waters without authorisation
  • The ship was impounded on October 12
  • The police produced all 33 arrested crew members before Judicial Magistrate, who remanded them in 14 days' judicial custody
  • They were sent to Palayamkottai jail near Tirunelveli, under tight security

Tuticorin (TN)/New Delhi, Oct 18
Thirty-three crew members of a US firm owned ship were today arrested by Tamil Nadu Police on charges of illegally carrying arms and ammunition and straying into Indian territorial waters without authorisation.

Justifying the detention, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singhsaid in New Delhi: "The vessel is owned by an American company but has the flag of Sierra Leone. It was stopped by the Coast Guard as it was carrying arms, ammunition and armed guards without necessary authorisation."

The action has been taken under the Arms Act and the Essential Commodities Act, she said. The Foreign Secretary said details have been shared with the US Embassy representative.

The police has seized 35 arms and about 5,680 rounds of ammunition from the vessel 'MV Seaman Guard Ohio', which has been impounded since October 12.

Thirty-three out of the 35 members on board the vessel were taken to Muthiahpuram Police Station this morning and questioned after which police completed legal formalities to effect their formal arrest.

An official statement issued by police headquarters in Chennai stated a case for offences under Arms Act 1959, Essential Commodities Act 1955 and Motor Spirit and High Speed Diesel Prevention of malpractices in supply and distribution order 1990 has been registered against the crew.

The investigation by the "Q" Branch police of the state's specialised wing has revealed that the vessel was found in the country's territorial waters and was in possession of a huge quantity of arms and ammunition, without valid authorisation of documents.

The police said the two crew members have been permitted to stay on board the vessel to carry out maintenance of the ship till further arrangements were made and they would also be arrested.

The Q Branch CID police have seized 35 arms and about 5,680 rounds of ammunition from the vessel, which was detained off Tuticorin coast on October 12.

Britain, whose six nationals are among the arrested crew, has sought consular access to them. "We have written to the MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) to request consular access to the British nationals," said UK High Commission spokesperson Marcus Winsley. PTI

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