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A court in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin city Thursday granted bail to all 35 crew members arrested from US ship Seaman Guard Ohio after rifles and bullets were found onboard the vessel, the DNA India Newspaper reports.
"Police had to file a chargesheet within 60 days of their arrest. But they did not do that and hence the court granted bail to the ship's crew," Joseph Jawahar, advocate for the crew, said.
The ship is owned by American company AdvanFort. Sailing under West African country Sierra Leone's flag, the Seaman Guard Ohio was in Indian waters on the night of Oct 11, around 15 nautical miles from Tuticorin port.
The Coast Guard escorted the ship with 35 people - 10 crew and 25 security guards - to Tuticorin port Oct 12.
Officials from various security departments questioned the ship's personnel after automatic rifles, bullets and other arms were found onboard the vessel.
A marine police official said security guards on the ship maintained that the arms were for providing security to the ship. The official told IANS earlier that the crew members were giving contradictory statements. Also, the papers presented by them did not support their verbal statements.
According to the Coast Guard, eight of the crew members are Indians and two Ukrainians.
On Oct 18, Tamil Nadu Police formally arrested 33 crew members and security personnel, and a court sent all of them to 14 days' judicial custody.