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Case against Scots soldier jailed in India is 'nonsense'

Billy Irving's partner spoke as the 'Chennai Six' await a verdict in their appeal.

Jail: Mr Irving was working as an anti-piracy guard.
Jail: Mr Irving was working as an anti-piracy guard. Yvonne MacHugh

The partner of one of the so-called Chennai Six has described the case against them as "utter nonsense" ahead of a verdict in their appeal.

Families of the six British men currently in prison in Chennai, India, have been campaigning for their release since they were arrested in October 2013.

Former soldier Billy Irving, from Connel in Argyll and Bute, was among six men jailed on weapons charges while working as security guards on ships to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean.

Their latest appeal concluded on November 20 in a hearing which saw captain of the vessel, Dudnyk Valentyn of Ukraine, repatriated.

They will receive the judgment on Monday.

'They have never harmed anyone, they've only ever tried to protect people.'
Yvonne MacHugh

Mr Irving's partner, Yvonne MacHugh, said: "What I'm expecting is the unexpected.

"For the whole time this has been going on we have looked at the worst and best situations, but it's never anything you can imagine that happens.

"The best outcome would be he's home before Christmas."

The 29-year-old mother returned from a six-day trip to India on November 19.

Mr Irving, 37, tried to put on a brave face but there was "sadness in his eyes", she said.

https://stv.tv/news/west-central/1380391-fears-anti-piracy-guard-jailed-in-india-could-be-forgotten/ | default

Ms MacHugh added: "They'll be staying grounded and not expecting much, they're just so tired now.

"I would just like the judge to look at why these men have been put in prison for all these years.

"They have never harmed anyone, they've only ever tried to protect people.

"What good are they doing in keeping these men from their children and wives?

"If they had any morals at all they would see this case is complete and utter nonsense."

https://stv.tv/news/scotland/1372233-may-to-press-indian-prime-minister-on-jailed-scots-soldier/ | default

The five other men are Nick Dunn, 31, of Northumberland, John Armstrong, 30, of Wigton, Cumbria, Nicholas Simpson, 47, of Catterick, North Yorkshire, Ray Tindall, 42, of Chester, and Paul Towers, 54, of 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.

The charges were initially quashed when the men argued the weapons were lawfully held for anti-piracy purposes and their paperwork, issued by the UK Government, was in order.

But a lower court reinstated the prosecution and they were convicted in January last year and sentenced to five years jail.

Since then there has been a series of appeals as the families navigate the Indian legal system.

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