Chennai: The principal sessions court in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu on Monday sentenced 35 crew members of the US anti-piracy vessel MV Seaman Guard Ohio to five years rigorous imprisonment for violating the international maritime border rules and entering the Indian waters without valid documents, and slapped a fine of Rs 1,000 on each of them.
In addition, Judge N Rajasekar also sentenced each of them to two years imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 2,000 on each of them under sections of the Arms Act. The jail terms will run concurrently.
The Indian Coast Guard intercepted the MV Seaman Guard Ohio off the Kanyakumari coast on October 12, 2013. The Q branch of the Tamil Nadu police seized 35 firearms, 5,682 ammunitions, 102 magazines, travel documents of the crew and logbook of the vessel. The Q branch booked cases against them under various Acts.
The crew members hail from the US, Ukraine and several other countries. The court acquitted eight others stating that investigation officers had failed to establish their role in helping the crew enter the Indian waters.
All the crew members were present when the judge read out the judgment. The convicted crew members can approach the Madras high court within 30 days to appeal against the verdict.
The Supreme Court had issued deadline to complete the legal proceedings before January 23.