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Estonian ship guards arrive in Tallinn after 4 years in India

TALLINN - The Estonian ship guards released from an Indian jail a week ago arrived in Tallinn on a flight from Frankfurt shortly before midnight Wednesday, Postimees and ERR reported.

According to the real time information system of Tallinn Airport, the aircraft landed at 11:46 p.m. The men declined to speak to journalists in front of the airport.

A high court in southern India last Monday acquitted 35 men, including 14 Estonians, of illegal possession of arms while they were on an anti-piracy boat in 2013. The six Britons, three Ukrainians, 14 Estonians and 12 Indians were given five-year jail terms by a lower court in India's Tamil Nadu state in January last year.

Authorities in Tamil Nadu on Oct. 18, 2013 arrested 35 crew and security personnel on board the anti-piracy vessel Seaman Guard Ohio. They were charged in December that year with illegal refueling, illegal handling of firearms and illegal entry into territorial waters.

After being handled in various court instances the case was returned by India's Supreme Court to the Tuticorin magistrate court, which on Jan. 11 last year sentenced the men to five years' imprisonment for entering India with weapons. At the end of January the ship guards decided to appeal the verdict and applied for bail.

The bail application was rejected on Feb. 29 but the court decided to continue appeal hearings. The hearings regarding the appeal started in the Indian court only in October and the court finished the hearings for the Estonian ship guards' appeal on Nov. 30, 2016

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