A FORMER army sniper from Chester jailed in India is expected to be released today after being granted bail, the maritime charity helping him has said.
Ray Tindall, of Newton, and four other former British soldiers are among 33 of 35 crewmen from the ship the Seaman Guard Ohio who were detained in India in October.
Mr Tindall, who now runs Farily’s Fine Foods, Billy Irving, from Connel, Scotland; Nick Dunn, from Ashington, Northumberland; Paul Towers, from Yorkshire; John Armstrong from Wigton, Cumbria, and Nicholas Simpson, from Catterick, North Yorkshire, were working for US private maritime company AdvanFort providing anti-piracy protection when their ship was detained.
They were arrested on October 12 and have been in prison in India since
The maritime welfare charity The Mission to Seafarers said five of the men have been granted bail and could be released as early as today, but one member of the group has not, although it is not yet clear who it is.
The move comes just a week after supporters of the men handed a petition with nearly 150,000 signatures to Downing Street.
In a statement, The Mission to Seafarers said: “Following news from the court in Chennai, The Mission to Seafarers is able to confirm that the judge has agreed in principle to the release on bail of 33 of the 35 crewmen who are currently in prison, pending further confirmation from the Indian lawyers that the 33 will be able to meet the conditions of the bail agreement.
“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.
“We are pleased that most of the men are now likely to be freed on bail, possibly as early as today; however we are still very concerned for the welfare of the captain and the security guard manager of the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, both of whom have been again denied bail.
“The security guard manager is one of the six British seafarers whose families have been campaigning in the UK for the Government to do more for them.
“Families and the Mission have also approached the Foreign Office in the UK and the Deputy High Commissioner’s Office in Chennai, India to plea for a swift resolution to the matter. We are waiting for further advice on this highly complex case.”
According to the men, Indian authorities claim the vessel entered Indian waters illegally with weapons on board, despite AdvanFort apparently insisting the ship had the correct papers.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “While we are unable to demand the release of British nationals, or interfere in another country's legal processes, we continue to make very clear our interest in this case, and the importance of ensuring that it is resolved as quickly as possible.”
See full story in the Chester Leader