Estonian ship guards receive altogether €120,000 in state aid
The state has given altogether €120,000 in unsecured financial aid to the 14 Estonian ship guards arrested and imprisoned in India since 2013 and who returned home late Wednesday evening following their acquittal last week.
"The total sum of financial aid given to ship guards was approximately €120,000, which includes accommodation expenses, emergency medical aid, expenses for travel related to their trial and plane tickets," Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Liisa Toots told BNS on Thursday.
According to Toots, responsibilities for refunding financial assistance have been fixed in writing for each of the ship guards separately.
The decision not to reclaim the aid is legally within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Estonian government.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE) said on Wednesday that he was going to propose refraining from reclaiming money spent by the government
The decision to abandon reclaiming the unsecured financial aid without security is legally within the jurisdiction of the foreign minister and the government.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE) was to propose to the Estonian government to release the men from the obligation to pay back the aid they had received from the state in the course of their ordeal.
"I am proposing to the government to release the ship guards from the obligation to pay back financial aid received from the state," said the minister. "The ship guards and their families have been in a very complicated situation for the past four years. I do not want to create an additional concern for them."
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) on Thursday expressed his support for a proposal not to claim the money back from the ship guards. "I think this is a place where the government should step in and help", he said, adding that the foreign minister had yet to submit such a proposal to the government, but that the government would definitely discuss it when made.
The 14 Estonian men were among 35 crew and security personnel from the anti-piracy vessel Seaman Guard Ohio first arrested in Tamil Nadu, India on Oct. 18, 2013. The men were senteced on Jan. 11, 2016 to five years in prison for entering India with weapons, but were acquitted on Nov. 27 and released from prison on Nov. 28 of this year.
Editor: Aili Vahtla