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Ministry: Main goal to get ship guards back to Estonia as soon as possible

The acquitted ship guards were released from prison in India on Nov. 28.
The acquitted ship guards were released from prison in India on Nov. 28. Source: (AFP/Scanpix)

According to Kersti Eesmaa, director general of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the primary goal right now is to get the ship guards released from prison in India back to Estonia as soon as possible, the first applications for which have already been filed.

Speaking in an interview with ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Tuesday evening, Eesmaa explained that most of Tuesday was spent on the ship guards' everyday matters, such as arranging for accommodations and returning the men's personal affects to them.

"They got back their phones, which had been in our possession," Eesmaa said, noting that they had tried to arrange for local phone cards for the men, which would allow them to get in contact with their loved ones, but this proved to take longer to arrange than expected. "But they should currently be in a hotel with wifi and should be able to speak with their loved ones via social media at least."

According to the ministry official, the Foreign Ministry's sole concrete goal right now is to get the men back to Estonia as soon as possible. "And we are working on that," she affirmed. "On the one hand, when it comes to condcting such bureaucratic business, one must ensure that applications are filed at the right place and in the right format, and the embassy has been actively engaged to this end today."

Eesmaa confirmed that the first applications have already been filed by the Estonian Embassy in New Delhi, adding that in addition to the bureaucratic side, Estonia must ensure that the Indian side is not against granting the applications, which is why Undersecretary for Legal and Consular Affairs Annely Kolk traveled to India to meet with local officials regarding the matter.

Contact with loved ones still difficult

Upon their release from prison, the 14 Estonian ship guards met with Consul Mats Kuuskemaa on Tuesday.

According to the latest information, the 14 Estonian citizens are in good health and have received their personal affects. Accommodations were arranged for the men as well.

Maret Veikat, the mother of ship guard Lauri Ader, told "Aktuaalne kaamera" that she understood that after two years, her son's phone may no longer even work, but she hoped that the ship guards would be able to share even just one phone to get in contact with their families.

Veikat has received most of her information regarding her son thus far via the news.

"Aktuaalne kaamera" was able to reach Dmitri Pappel, one of the freed ship guards, via social media on Tuesday night.

"We just got our stuff back from storage," Pappel wrote. "Almost everything was still there, which is pretty good for India. We're awaiting Undersecretary Kolk's flight. We're going to start discussing the matter of our flying back."

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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