The legal case for the 35 men held in India as part of the Seaman Guard Ohio case has come to a standstill. They filed an appeal against their conviction in February 2016; it was heard in court in November 2016 at which point the judge reserved orders. The judge has still not released his judgment on the appeal, meaning the crew and their families have been waiting every day since November 2016 to hear something. In October the men willl have been held in India for four years.
The British families have created a campaign called the Chennai 6, which is the name the British Government uses to refer to the six British men held in India. Their aim is to secure the release of all 35 men wrongly held, and they have now created an awareness video about the Seaman Guard Ohio case.
“The video is quite emotional and hard hitting,” says Joanne Thomlinson, sister of crewman John Armstrong. “We find that many people we speak to don't realize that the men are still in prison. We've had a lot of people say they heard about the case when it first happened in 2013 and they had assumed it had been resolved.”
The crew were detained on October 12, 2013 in the Indian Port of Tuticorin for possession of illegal arms and environmental pollution. Indian authorities subsequently arrested the six British nationals, three Ukrainians, fourteen Estonians and 12 Indians. The vessel was owned by the AdvanFort Company who stopped paying the crew salaries in November 2013.
The six British guards have now been imprisoned in the notorious Chennai Puzhal prison for two years of a five year sentence, having been deprived of their liberty for four years so far.
Human Rights at Sea, alongside Whittaker & Co and Global Maritime Recruitment Solutions has funded the new awareness video which has been professionally produced by Standby productions. It is narrated by Jordan Wylie (from JWC International) who is an ambassador of the campaign.
Wylie commented: “The case of the Chennai 6 and the crew of the Seaman Guard Ohio is an absolute travesty and one of the biggest miscarriages of justice the maritime world has ever seen. We can only hope that through maximum awareness projects such as this new video that someone somewhere will intervene with a common-sense approach and allow these veterans to return to their families and loved ones.”