A local court in Tuticorin has granted conditional bail to all the 35 crew members of a US ship, arrested on charges of illegally carrying weapons on board the vessel and straying into Indian waters.
In their bail plea, the crew argued that the 'Q' branch of Tamil Nadu police had failed to file the chargesheet even after 60 days of their arrest.
After hearing the petition, Judicial Magistrate-I Kathiravan granted them bail on Thursday ordering that they report at the office of the 'Q' branch , investigating the case, and sign every day.
Earlier, their bail pleas had been rejected by a court in Tuticorin and the Madurai bench of the Madras high court.
The 35 crew members of the ship MV Seeman Ohio were arrested on October 18 by Tamil Nadu police after it was intercepted by the Coast Guard. They were booked under the Arms Act and Essential Commodities Act.
The crew members were also accused of illegal purchase of diesel from local agents.
Twenty two foreign nationals among the crew are lodged in the Chennai Puzhal Central prison, while another from UK and 12 Indians are in the Palayalamkottai Central Prison in Tirunelveli.
On December 18, the Madurai Bench of the Madras high court had dismissed their bail petitions, stating the probe was in the initial stage and if they were released on bail, it could affect the investigation.
Image: MV Seaman Ohio