Hopes for Xmas release of Oban man from Indian jail
The sister of a British man jailed in India as one of the so-called Chennai Six said they could be home for Christmas, with a verdict on their appeal due in the next few weeks.
Loved ones of the six exsoldiers - including Billy Irving, 37, from Connel, by Oban - currently in prison in Chennai, India, have been campaigning for their release since they were arrested in October 2013.
The six, who a British lawyer says are victims of a miscarriage of justice, were first jailed on weapons charges while working as security guards on ships to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean.
Lisa Dunn, sister of Nick Dunn, 31, from Ashington, Northumberland, said: “We have been waiting for a judgment on the appeal for a whole year and so we put in an appeal to a higher court.
“They have acknowledged that appeal and said a judgment needs to be issued in the next few weeks, which means there’s every chance they could be back for Christmas.
“So the Foreign Office need to really get behind this and work with the lawyers when the verdict is issued, in giving them exit visas.”
Ms Dunn said despite putting pressure on the Indian government, the Foreign Office had failed her brother and the other five by allowing the appeal to drag on for so long.
The four other men are, John Armstrong, 30, of Wigton, Cumbria, Nicholas Simpson, 47, of Catterick, North Yorkshire; Ray Tindall, 42, of Chester; Paul Towers, 54, originally from Bootle, but living in Pocklington, East Yorkshire.
Earlier this year Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the UK would “leave no stone unturned” in securing their release.
In 2013 the Indian coastguard boarded their vessel, the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, and arrested them for taking weapons into India’s territorial waters.
They were eventually convicted in January last year and sentenced to five years in jail. Since then there has been a series of appeals as the families navigate the tortuous Indian legal system.
CAPTIVE: Billy Irving, from Oban, has been held in India since his October 2013 arrest BY TOM WHITE