Hopes for Xmas re­lease of Oban man from In­dian jail


The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - NEWS -

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

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