A court has denied bail to the crew members of US-owned anti-piracy patrol ship who were arrested in October on charges of illegally carrying arms and straying into Indian waters.
The decision by a judge at the High Court in Madras means that the 35 men, including a Scot from Argyll, will not be home for Christmas but remain in a filthy prison in Chennai despite having not been charged with anything.
The only person granted bail was a fisherman accused of supplying provisions to the crew.
The Seaman Guard Ohio crew comprises two Ukrainians and eight Indians. There were 25 security guards on board: 14 Estonians, six British nationals, four Indian nationals and one Ukrainian.
The British guards include special forces veteran Billy Irving, 33, from Connel, Argyll and Mick Dunn, 27, from Ashington, Northumberland, who had served in the Parachute Regiment.
The ship is operated by US-based AdvanFort which provides maritime security for ships against pirates. Hercrew was arrested in Tuticorin in October on charges of the trespassing into Indian waters, illegal possession of arms and ammunition and illegal procurement of diesel.
Tamil Nadu Police said they recovered 31 assault rifles and more than 5000 rounds of ammunition from the vessel.
The crew members were then detained on charges of trespassing into Indian waters, illegal possession of arms and ammunition and unauthorized procurement of diesel.
The 22 foreigners were moved to Puzhal Jail in Chennai.
Vessel operator AdvanFort, a maritime security company based in Washington, confirmed the judge in India had rejected the bail petition for the release of the 35 maritime professionals who have already had two months of confinement with no formal charges.
The company was still awaiting the full reasons for the decision to deny the men Christmas at home.
AdvanFort spokesman Dave Yonkman said: “Today’s ruling is outrageous and an affront to the basic standards of justice in a country that calls itself the largest democracy in the world.”
He said the “mystifying investigation” by Indian authorities has dragged on for two months already while AdvanFort’s seamen and maritime security contractors continued to languish in despicable and barbaric conditions.
“Throughout their careers and this ordeal, these men have admirably adhered to the highest standards of professional conduct and integrity. AdvanFort thanks their loved ones for their patience and understanding as we now redouble our efforts in continuing to work around-the-clock, 24/7 to secure their release.”
He added that nine lawyers were now working to secure the men’s release.