One of the 35 crew members of the detained American ship, MV Seaman Guard Ohio, has allegedly tried to commit suicide, Tamil Nadu police said.
According to police sources, 60-year-old Dudnik Valentyn, a Ukrainian national, along with another crew member, was left on the ship while the police arrested the rest of the members on Friday.
The two crew members were left for the upkeep and maintenance of the vessel. The engineer, described by prison authorities as depressed and stressed, attempted to hang himself on Saturday, following which the two seamen were later shifted to Palayam Cottai jail in Tirunelveli, 50 km from Tuticorin.
MV Seaman Guard Ohio, an armed ship operated by a US maritime security company AdvanFort, was detained on October 11 by the Coast Guard east off Tuticorin, around 600 km south of Chennai, for failing to produce papers authorising it to carry weapons and ammunition in Indian waters.
Some reports said the engineer attempted to commit suicide in the prison as well. Jail authorities, however, have denied the report, saying that all crew members are “hale and hearty”.
“They have been eating a proper breakfast of boiled eggs, potatoes etc. There’s nothing to worry,” a prison official said on Monday morning. He, however, didn’t wish to be named.
The crew and security guards included British, Estonian, Indian and Ukrainian nationals. Eight out of them were Indians.
Meanwhile, consular access to the six British nationals has been given to the United Kingdom.
AdvanFort International, a US-based firm that owns the ship detained off Tamil Nadu coast, earlier termed the arrest of its crew as "inappropriate" and said it is working diplomatically and through the judicial system to prove the innocence of 35 sailors to get them released. It is scheduled to represent its case before an Indian court on Monday.
"Our vessel Seaman Guard Ohio has been detained in Tuticorin and 35 of our crew and guards are being held. We believe the entire issue is inappropriate, because we were asked to come into Indian territorial waters by the Indian Coast Guard, while we were outside the Indian territorial waters where we were operating," William H Watson, president of AdvanFort, said.