Charges dropped against AdvanFort crew

Court sets free crew of armed US ship, says they came for food, fuel

CHENNAI: About nine months after an US ship, dubbed ‘floating armoury’, was detained off Tuticorin port with a huge cache of arms and ammunition, the Madras high court has trashed the conspiracy theory and quashed the criminal case against 35 crew members, including five Britons.

Justice P N Prakash, making it clear the crew could not be tried under the Arms Act, said on Thursday: “I hold that the anchoring of MV Seaman Guard Ohio within our territorial sea was out of necessity and their action is saved by the principle of ‘innocent passage’.”

The vessel, flying a Sierra Leone flag, was taken into Tuticorin port on October, 12, 2013. After finding the crew heavily armed, various investigating agencies were alerted and a joint interrogation team was constituted for questioning the captain and crew.

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