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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Wigton man being held in 'inhumane conditions' in Indian jail

A maritime union is claiming six Britons – including a Wigton man – are being held in “inhumane conditions” in an Indian jail.

John Armstrong photo
John Armstrong

Related: David Cameron intervenes in case of Wigton man locked up in India

John Armstrong was one of 35 people arrested on board the Seaman Guard Ohio in October.

The Indian government claims the ship, which offers anti-piracy support to other vessels, illegally strayed into their waters and did not have a permit for the weapons on board.

Mr Armstrong, whose family live in Wigton, is understood to have been one of a number of armed guards on the ship which is owned by US company AdvanFort.

He is one of six former British soldiers among the captives who have been denied bail three times since their arrest.

Despite more than 90,000 people adding their signatures to a petition calling on the British Government to step in and help free Mr Armstrong and five other former soldiers, the group remain in custody.

The International Organisation of Masters, Mates and Pilots (MM&P) has now claimed the personnel from the ship are being held in “inhumane conditions” in the Chennai prison.

The union claims the group are being deprived of proper medical treatment, bathing facilities and adequate food.

It says the prisoners’ health is deteriorating because of malnutrition, and that they are subjected to mental harassment and emotional trauma.

The MM&P says the details are revealed in court papers submitted as part of a new bail application to be hopefully heard this month.

Cpt James Staples, an MM&P senior advisor and spokesman, told a maritime website: “This is an outrage — a violation of every civilised standard. The circumstances surrounding the arrests is suspect and the manner in which authorities are treating the crew is disconcerting.

“For example, the men were imprisoned for two months before they were formally charged.”

John Armstrong is the son of a Wigton painter and decorator of the same name.

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