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UAE court releases Indian ship crew

Captain Jitendra Malhotra and his crew members were convicted by a lower court for killing compatriot.

india Updated: Jul 26, 2006 16:15 IST

An appeal court ordered the release of an Indian ship captain facing life imprisonment in the UAE, and five crew members, who were sentenced to five years in jail on a murder case.

The court in the emirate of Fujairah ruled that the local criminal court had no jurisdiction to conduct trial of the accused who were charged with a crime in international waters.

Captain Jitendra Malhotra and his crew members were convicted by a lower court for killing compatriot Sudheer Nonia Jagannathan aboard a Norwegian oil tanker 'Champion Pioneer' while it was sailing in international waters off the Fujairah coast.

The Indian mission in the UAE had pleaded before the criminal court to transfer the case to India as the incident took place in international waters as the victim as well as the accused were all Indians.

Meena Mathew, a legal advisor to both the shipping and the insurance companies, told Khaleej Times that the family of the victim had pardoned the accused after receiving money from the families of the accused sailors.

Sudheer (31) who hailed from Mumbai and employed as a fitter on the vessel was allegedly killed on February 6 following a dispute with the captain.

The accused claimed that Sudheer, a few days after joining duty on the ship sailing from New Mangalore en route to Kuwait, had turned violent and had only been restrained.

The families of the crew members submitted a pardon letter from the victim's family but it was not taken into consideration by the criminal court as it was not attested and certified by Indian authorities.