Indian court puts off decision on Estonian ship guards' bail application
A court in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu on Tuesday heard a bail application filed on behalf of the Estonian ship guards sentenced to five years in jail, but adjourned judgment.
"Today a sitting on the topic of bail for the ship guards took place at the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court. The sitting lasted two and a half hours, both the prosecutor and lawyers for the defense took the floor," spokesperson for the Estonian Foreign Ministry Triinu Rajasalu told the Baltic News Service.
"The judge decided to make the decision about the bail at a later time and didn't set any deadline," Rajasalu said.
The first hearing of the bail application at the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on 16 February never came to the point of a substantive discussion of the application, and the next hearing back then was set for 23 February.
Police in India's southernmost state Tamil Nadu arrested 35 crew and maritime security personnel on board the anti-piracy vessel Seaman Guard Ohio in October last year, 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 by various court instances, the case was returned by India's Supreme Court to the Tuticorin magistrate court, which on 11 January this year sentenced the men to five years' imprisonment. The ship guards decided at the end of January to appeal the verdict.