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India arrests US ship crew members
October 18, 2013, 10:56 am


The American ship was detained off the Tuticorin coast last weekend by the Indian Coast Guard [AP]

Thirty-three crew members of a US ship have been arrested by police forces in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu on charges of illegally carrying arms and ammunition in Indian territorial waters without authorisation.

India’s criminal investigative police say they have seized 35 weapons and 5,680 rounds of ammunition from the MV Seaman Guard Ohio vessel, which has been impounded since October 12.

Local Indian media reports have stated that most of the accused are allegedly former members of the US, UK and NATO Special Forces – the reports are yet to be verified.

Thirty-three out of the 35 members on board the vessel have already been questioned and detained at a local police station.

An official statement issued by police headquarters in the state capital, Chennai, stated the crew members have been charged with several offences including breaching the 1959 Indian Arms Act.

Local police said investigation by their specialised wing in the last two days has revealed that the vessel was found in India’s territorial waters in possession of a huge quantity of arms and ammunition without holding the required permits.

Police said two crew members have been permitted to stay on board to carry out maintenance work till further arrangements were made after which they would also be arrested.

The American ship was detained off the Tuticorin coast last weekend by the Indian Coast Guard.

Washington-based AdvanFort International, the firm that owns the ship, said they “have nothing to hide”.

“That is the primary investigation. Of course the Indian Government is very strict on fire arms. Since our vessels have fire arms they are looking at all of our records and we welcome that audit. We have nothing to hide,” said William H Watson President of AdvanFort.

The US State Department has been notified and are monitoring the situation, added Watson.

Source: Agencies