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Saturday, 20 September 2014

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Cumbrian ex-soldier to be freed from Indian jail within days

A north Cumbrian man held in an Indian jail for more than five months is to be released.

John Armstrong photo
John Armstrong

John Armstrong was among 35 crew members on board the US-owned ship Seaman Guard Ohio, when it was detained by authorities in October.

Subsequently, 33 of those were charged, including six former British soldiers. A campaign to free the group has been ongoing.

It emerged today that the 33, including five of the Britons, are due to be released later this week, pending confirmation from the Indian lawyers that they will be able to meet the conditions of their bail.

"These are likely to include a bail fee for each man being properly secured and lodged in India, and for evidence to be put forward that the men will have satisfactory accommodation locally during the period when they are on bail awaiting trial," says a statement by The Mission to Seafarers.

It is unlikely, however, the group will be given their 'freedom' until Friday.

Both the ship's captain and the security guard manager, who is British, have been denied bail.

"We are waiting for further advice on this highly complex case but will be doing all we can to ensure that the remaining seafarers in prison and their families are supported.

"We are also waiting to find out what the next steps and timings are in preparation for a trial of all the men,” adds The Mission.

Indian authorities claimed the ship had illegally entered the country’s waters and did not have the right permits to carry the weapons on board.

AdvanFort, the American anti-piracy company which owns the ship, has always maintained that it was invited into Indian waters to escape a typhoon.

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