Estonian ship guards in India appeal 5-year prison sentence ({{commentsTotal}})

The 14 Estonian ship guards sentenced to five years in prison in India on January 11 have decided to appeal the decision, Estonian Ambassador to India Vilja Lubi told ERR.

According to Lubi, the Estonian seamen appealed the decision to Madurai court. The court will take its time to review the appeal and announce its decision to the authorities of Tamil Nadu, he said.

Lubi added that the British and Ukrainian ship guards have also decided to appeal the Tuticorin court decision.

The 35-strong crew of AdvanFort's anti-piracy vessel Seaman Guard Ohio, including 14 Estonians and another six EU-citizens, were sentenced to five years in prison on January 11 on arms violation and other charges.

The decision to appeal means that the men will not be able to ask for pardon or be exchanged for Indian prisoners in Estonia until the decision has been finalized.

“On a political level we can ask India to speed up the proceedings but we cannot influence their outcome,” Estonian Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand said after the five-year sentence was announced over two weeks ago. She added that Estonian will support its citizens regardless.

The seamen have been in India since October 11, 2013.