A member of a U.S.-owned ship whose crew was arrested by Indian authorities earlier this month for allegedly carrying a "huge cache" of illegal arms, has tried to commit suicide in his jail cell, police say.
The chief engineer of the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, owned by the U.S.-based security firm AdvanFort and detained along with its international crew on Oct. 12, was prevented by his cellmates from taking his own life, Indian police say, according to the BBC. The nationality of the crew member in question was not revealed, but the ship's complement includes Indians, Britons, Ukrainians and Estonians, according to AdvanFort.
As we reported last week, the MV Seaman Guard Ohio was intercepted by the Indian Coast Guard in waters off the southeastern state of Tamil Nadu. Authorities said they found weapons and ammunition aboard that had not been properly declared and accused the ship's master of illegally purchasing 400 gallons of diesel from a local agent. The ship is currently at anchor in the port of Tuticorin.
AdvanFort, which provides "comprehensive maritime security solutions to the commercial shipping industry," according to its website, has maintained that the weapons carried by the vessel were legally declared to Indian authorities and were mean to be used in anti-piracy operations.
On Sunday, the company's president, William H. Watson, told the Press Trust of India news agency that the continued detention of the ship and crew was "inappropriate."
AdvanFort has maintained that the vessel was in Indian waters seeking a port of refuge from cyclone Phailin.