An Indian court sentenced 35 crew members of a US-owned ship to five years in prison for illegally entering Indian waters carrying arms and ammunition, officials said Tuesday.
The court in the southern port city of Tuticorin handed down the punishment Monday to 23 foreigners, including British, Ukranian and Estonian nationals, and 12 Indians, regional police chief Ashwin Kotnis said.
The lawyer for the accused, R Subramaniya Adityan, told reporters that his clients, who are out on bail, would challenge the verdict in a higher court.
The MV Seaman Guard Ohio was intercepted by the Indian coast guard in October 2013 off the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The crew spent nine months in jail and were let out on bail but not allowed to leave India.
AdvanFort, the US-based company that owns the ship, said the vessel was involved in anti-piracy operations and had drifted into Indian waters after running out of fuel, the Telegraph newspaper reported.
The state police's anti-terrorism unit, which investigated the case, said the entry of the ship into Indian waters was a "threat to internal security."