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MEP Urmas Paet: Ship guards should receive compensation from India

The 14 Estonian ship guards arrived in Estonia late Wednesday night. Dec. 6, 2017.
The 14 Estonian ship guards arrived in Estonia late Wednesday night. Dec. 6, 2017. Source: (Rene Suurkaev/ERR)

Estonian MEP and former foreign minister Urmas Paet (Reform/ALDE) said that the ship guards, who were imprisoned in India for four years and returned home late on Wednesday evening, should receive compensation from India.

"I think that it would be clearly appropriate for a state based on the rule of law. As when the story ended with an acquittal, while at the same time four years of the mens' lives have been waster in very poor conditions, away from loved ones, the minimum that can be done would be to demand compensation," Paet told BNS on Friday. "Although it is clear that no kind of money will replace those four years," he added.

He said that Estonian government institutions could also help the ship guards in demanding compensation from the state of India.

"I believe that the state can still give advice -- how exactly, what to do, who to turn to, what to draw up... In this regard the Foreign Ministry or Justice Ministry can definitely give advice," Paet said.

Paet served as Estonia's foreign minister from April 2005 to November 2014.

The Estonian ship guards released from an Indian jail a week ago arrived in Tallinn on a flight from Frankfurt shortly before midnight on Wednesday.

A high court in southern India last Monday acquitted 35 men, including 14 Estonians, of illegal possession of arms while they were on an anti-piracy boat in 2013. The six Britons, three Ukrainians, 14 Estonians and 12 Indians were given five-year jail terms by a lower court in India's Tamil Nadu state in January last year.

Authorities in Tamil Nadu on Oct. 18, 2013 arrested 35 crew and security personnel on board the anti-piracy vessel Seaman Guard Ohio. They were charged in December that year with illegal refueling, illegal handling of firearms and illegal entry into territorial waters.

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 last year 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. The hearings regarding the appeal started in the Indian court only in October and the court finished the hearings for the Estonian ship guards' appeal on Nov. 30, 2016.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: BNS

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