‘Innocent’ ex-soldiers must be freed from jail, families urge Government

FRESH pressure will be brought to bear on the Government today in an effort to bring home six British men who have been held in India for two-and-a-half-years.

Paul Towers

The families of the six, including three from Yorkshire, are urging supporters to join them for a rally in Carlisle ahead of a meeting with Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire this afternoon.

The men – part of a 35-strong multinational crew aboard floating armoury ship the MV Seaman Guard Ohio – insist they were lawfully employed guarding merchant shipping in the Gulf of Aden against Somali pirates.

But their hopes of being freed were cruelly dashed in January, when they were sent to prison for five years after being found guilty of firearms charges. They are now imprisoned in squalid conditions with little to eat in Palayamkottai Jail in Tamil Nadu where they await an appeal in June. Ann Towers, wife of Paul Towers, from Pocklington said: “Our family and friends have been amazing sending food parcels to Paul, to bolster the men’s diet and to keep their spirits and morale up.

“We hope that the meeting with Hugo Swire will bring us some positive news, instead of hearing again the ‘we cannot get involved’ statement, that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have quoted to us for the past two and half years.

“We remain focussed on the appeal in June with prayers being said that the truth will out, and our beloved men will be allowed to come home. These are innocent men, and Minister Swire knows this, as does the Prime Minster.”

The other men with Yorkshire links are Ray Tindall, originally from Hull and Nicholas Simpson, from Catterick.

Maritime lawyer Stephen Askins said ships with weapons on board went into and out of Indian ports every day. He added:“The vessel and the seamen represented no terrorist threat to India and its people at all, and the motivation behind bringing the charges is completely incomprehensible.”

Read more: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/innocent-ex-soldiers-must-be-freed-from-jail-families-urge-government-1-7888185#ixzz48pHM7ndn

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