The Riigikogu began procedures on Monday to ratify the agreement on the transfer of sentenced persons with India, on the basis of which the Estonian ship guards sentenced to prison in India could be brought home. The Riigikogu's Legal Affairs Committee unanimously supported the agreement.
The Riigikogu's Legal Affairs Committee began debates on the bill of ratification on Monday, the press service of the Riigikogu reported. Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu (IRL) attended the meeting as well. The agreement found the unanimous support of all the committee's members.
Committee chairman Jaanus Karilaid (Center) previously told BNS that he would do everything in his power for the agreement to be ratified as quickly as possible.
As the ratification of external treaties requires only two readings, a joint endeavor of the committee and the board of the Riigikogu could bring about the ratification of the agreement within this month already, he said.
On Oct. 18 2013, police in Tamil Nadu arrested 35 crew and security personnel on board the anti-piracy vessel Seaman Guard Ohio, including 14 Estonian citizens as well as citizens of the UK, Ukraine and India. 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.
After being handled in various court instances, the case was returned by India's Supreme Court to the Tuticorin Magistrate Court which on Jan. 11, 2016 sentenced the men to five years' imprisonment for entering India with weapons. At the end of January, the ship guards decided to appeal the verdict and applied for bail. The bail application was rejected on Feb. 29, but the court decided to continue appeal hearings, which were subsequently postponed multiple times.
BNS reported in early December that a hearing in the ship guards' appeal had taken place in the Madurai branch of the Tamil Nadu High Court. Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maria Belovas had told BNS at the time that, according to the lawyers, the presentation of arguments had been completed, after which they were left to wait for the court's decision on the matter.
India has already ratified the agreement. The Estonian government forwarded the agreement to the Riigikogu for ratification in mid-January.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla