KIEV, October 18 (RIA Novosti) – One Ukrainian citizen – not three, as previously reported – aboard a Sierra Leone-flagged ship has been arrested by Indian coastguards on suspicion of arms smuggling, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said Friday.
It said Indian authorities had arrested the Seaman Guard Ohio’s security personnel, including one Ukrainian, while the rest of the crew members, including the Ukrainian captain and chief engineer, remained on board.
India’s Zee News television network reported earlier Friday that all 35 crew members had been arrested, brought before a magistrate and ordered to remain in custody.
Of the 35 people on board, 10 were crew members (eight Indians and two Ukrainians) while the rest were security guards (six British subjects, 14 Estonians, one Ukrainian and four Indians), the report said.
According to local media reports, the Seaman Guard Ohio had 31 assault rifles and around 5,000 rounds of ammunition on board.
It was also booked for illegally buying 1,500 liters of diesel from a fishing boat, reports said.
On Saturday, Indian coastguards detained the ship owned by US private security company AdvanFort 15 nautical miles (27.8 km) off the port town of Tuticorin in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu on suspicion of illegally transporting weapons, according to the Maritime Bulletin.
AdvanFort president William Watson said his company provides armed counter-piracy protection and so the guards onboard the ship had “their uniforms, protective equipment, medical kits, rifles and ammunition – all of which is properly registered and licensed to AdvanFort.”