Nautilus International welcomed the acquittal and release of the 35 seafarers and security guards from the Seaman Guard Ohio support vessel who had been held in India for over four years on charges of possessing illegal firearms.
The Sierra Leone-registered ship was detained by the Indian authorities in October 2013 after it entered the country's territorial waters for bunkering. Police accused the crew, including six British security guards, of carrying unregistered weapons and making an illicit money transfer for the bunkers and they were sentenced to five years imprisonment.
The charges were initially quashed when the men argued successfully that the weapons were lawfully held for anti-piracy purposes and their paperwork was in order. But the case went to another court and they were sentenced to five years in jail.
General secretary Mark Dickinson commented:
I am delighted that justice has finally prevailed and these men can return home to their families and put these dubious legal proceedings behind them.
'We hope that the Indian authorities will return the crews' passports and papers as soon as possible to ensure that they can return home to their loved ones before Christmas.'