Estonia-India prisoner transfer agreement expected to be signed Tuesday
The agreement on the transfer of sentenced prisoners between Estonia and India is highly likely to be signed in New Delhi on Tuesday, spokespeople for the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told BNS on Monday.
"According to current plans, the signing should take place tomorrow at the Indian Ministry of the Interior," a spokesperson for the Estonian ministry said.
Ambassador Riho Kruuv is to sign the accord on behalf of Estonia.
The agreement on the transfer of sentenced persons was approved by the Estonian government at the beginning of July and endorsed by the Indian government at the end of October.
The accord might help bring home the Estonian ship guards sentenced to jail by a South Indian court, but it cannot be applied until the sentence has entered into force, which means the ship guards would have to drop their appeal.
On Oct. 18, 2013, police in India's southernmost state Tamil Nadu 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.
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 sentenced the men to five years' imprisonment. 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. An appeal hearing at which the arguments of the defense were heard finally took place on Nov. 8.