Fantastic news for the #Chennai6 and their families as all 35 men involved are found NOT GUILTY and acquitted
The #Chennai6 campaign team released a statement this morning and said "The Appeal Court has today found all 35 men NOT GUILTY and acquitted them. We now wait to hear as and when the men will be allowed home to their families. This may take some time due to paperwork but the men's release from prison is imminent, the families are understandably delighted that finally common sense and justice has prevailed.
The six British former soldiers were arrested while working as guards on a ship to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean in 2013 and have spent around 3 years in a Chennai central prison.
The men always denied the charges, which were initially quashed but later reinstated. They were sentenced to five years in 2016.
The former soldiers appealed, and a judge today ruled that they will be acquitted.
The #Chennai6 Campaign Ambassador Jordan Wylie recently gave us this statement:
“I am absolutely delighted that this day has come and I would like to thank every person who has kept hope by supporting the campaign for Justice. The process now is we await the court order to be sent to the prison in the next day or so which will see them released from Chennai prison officially and then the FCO must act to get these men home ASAP to their families for Christmas, which is where they belong. Today is a great day for the families who have fought so hard for so long” - Jordan Wylie
The men were arrested on board a ship owned by an American company which offered armed protection services to vessels sailing through an area known as "pirates' alley" between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.
Customs officials and police found 35 guns, including semi-automatic weapons, and almost 6,000 rounds of ammunition on board the ship.
Indian authorities said the weapons and ammunition had not been properly declared
Initially charges were quashed when the men argued that the weapons were lawfully held for anti-piracy purposes and the paperwork, issued by the UK government, was in order.
But a lower court reinstated the prosecution and they were convicted in January last year.
Since then there has been a series of appeals.
The British Veterans, who will now be released are:
Nick Dunn from Ashington, Northumberland
Billy Irving from Connel, Argyll
Ray Tindall from Chester
Paul Towers from Pocklington, East Yorkshire
John Armstrong from Wigton, Cumbria
Nicholas Simpson from Catterick, North Yorkshire
Emotional scenes this morning as the family of Nick Dunn react to the verdict