The six British nationals, former security guards on board the Seaman Guard Ohio anti-piracy vessel, also known as the Chennai Six, have been released from prison after four years.
“After four long years, we, along with the 29 crew of the Seaman Guard Ohio, have been cleared by the Appeal Court. We want to thank the court for reaching this decision. We are all in good health and eager to return to our families and friends. Whilst we wait for permission to leave India and come home, we ask the media to respect our privacy and that of our families during this process.
“We want to thank our legal counsel, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and The Mission to Seafarers for helping us reach this point. We have been glad to receive the many messages of support and care packages during our time in prison, and ask for time to reflect on our experience and to prepare for home,” a joint statement from the Chennai Six issued today from the freedom of their hotel in India reads.
On November 27, the Madurai bench of the Madras high court freed the thirty-five crew members and guards of the American-owned ship Seaman Guard Ohio, arrested in 2013, acquitting them of all charges.
The ship’s crew including six British maritime security guards, three Ukrainians, fourteen Estonians as well as twelve Indians, was detained on October 12, 2013, in the Indian Port of Tuticorin.
The coast guard accused them of straying into Indian waters without permission with “illegal weapons” on board.
In January 2016, all crew members were found guilty by the court and sentenced to five years imprisonment. In addition, each of them was ordered to pay Rs 3,000 fine which will be refunded now.
The ruling came following the November 2016 appeal led by the Chennai Six.