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Saturday, 02 August 2014

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Cumbrian weapons charges man waiting to learn fate

A Wigton man facing weapons charges in India faces a further delay before learning his fate.

John Armstrong photo
John Armstrong

John Armstrong, son of the painter and decorator of the same name, was one of 35 crew members on board the Seaman Guard Ohio who were arrested last October. They spent six months in a Chennai prison, awaiting trial accused of various offences.

A hearing was due to take place this week but, like many others, has been adjourned. It means that Mr Armstrong, whose friends and family still live in Wigton, must wait until Monday for his next hearing.

Supporters are hoping that all charges will be dropped and he will finally be able to return home.

They were taken prisoners last year after their ship, which is owned by American anti-piracy company Advanfort, was accused of entering Indian waters illegally, obtaining fuel without suitable permits and carrying unauthorised weapons.

Mr Armstrong, a former soldier, is understood to have been one of the armed guards working on board.

A major campaign was launched in the UK by the families of the six British men who were arrested – all of whom are ex-soldiers.

A petition of signatures gathered on the website change.org was handed to Prime Minister David Cameron when it reached 100,000.

It has now been signed by more than 150,000 people.

All but two of the 35 crew members were eventually released on bail in April.

Proceedings against the group were subsequently temporarily halted, after an Indian court agreed to a hearing to have the charges against the men quashed.

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