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South Korea to free Indian sailors

india Updated: May 28, 2009 18:45 IST

Two Indian sailors who have been detained in South Korea for close to 18 months for an oil spillage that New Delhi says they did not cause are to be set free within two weeks, Indian diplomatic sources said on Thursday.

South Korean diplomats at the UN International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in London have said they expect Jasprit Chawla, captain of the Hebei Spirit, and Chief Officer Shyam Chetan to be allowed to fly back within two weeks, Indian diplomats told IANS.

Despite repeated protestations by New Delhi and several global shipping and transport bodies, the two sailors have been incarcerated in South Korea since December 7, 2007, when a South Korean crane barge rammed into their Hong Kong-registered oil tanker in stormy weather, causing a spillage of 10,000 tonnes of oil.

The Indian delegation to the latest round of discussions at the IMO was led by Capt MM Saggi, shipping adviser to the government.