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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

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Cumbrian former soldier held in Indian prison is charged

A Wigton man has been charged and faces months in an Indian jail before even standing trial.

John Armstrong photo
John Armstrong

John Armstrong is one of six former British soldiers who has been locked up in Puzhal Prison in Chennai since October.

Mr Armstrong, son of a well-known Wigton painter and decorator of the same name, was a security guard on board the American-owned MV Seaman Guard Ohio when he was arrested.

Indian authorities detained 33 of the 35 crew members, although the exact reason for their arrest remains unclear.

Family and friends of the Britons had been holding out hope of an imminent release on bail, but it has now emerged that all of those being held have in fact been charged.

Details remain unclear but Indian newspapers are now reporting that the police filed a charge sheet on Monday.

It is unclear what charges they face, but the 2,158-page charge sheet names 45 people, including the owners of Advanfort – the company which owns the ship – plus all 35 crew members and five locals who helped supply diesel to the ship.

The Foreign Office is understood to be liaising closely with the Indian authorities.

At the time of their arrest, Indian Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh said the crew had failed to produce documents allowing them to carry weapons and ammunition in Indian waters.

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