The Press and Journal
25 March 2014,
Insurers blamed for delays as Brit’s bail hopes raised
By laura paterson
Insurers are being blamed for the failure to pay wages to 35 men – including a former soldier from Argyll – who have been held without trial in India since last October.
The boss of the company they were working for when they were arrested has denied responsibility and has blamed an insurance broker and two insurers who he says have also not covered the legal expenses.
Meanwhile, hopes are high the men may finally get bail in the next few days.
Ahmed Farajallah, acting president of Washington-based maritime security specialist Advanfort, whose father is the owner, confirmed the men from his vessel, the Seaman Guard Ohio, had not had their full salaries since their detention.
“All this is bad enough for the prisoners and their families, but now the insurers of the Seaman Guard Ohio have refused to reimburse Advanfort for any of the expenses.
“Aon, a company whose responsibility is to see to it that insurers pay out claims, has been unresponsive as well.
“Now, Advanfort is assembling a legal team to weigh its options due to Aon’s lack of timely response.”
Mr Farajallah said Advanfort was putting together a legal case to put Aon on notice for “dragging its feet”.
The men are reportedly held in disgusting conditions with rats for company in unhygienic cells.
All have lost several stones in weight andsome are showing signsof serious mental conditions.
Among the six detained British guards is Billy Irving, 33, of Oban in Argyll.
Neither of the two insurance companies involved, Lodestar and Travelers, would comment.
A spokeswoman for the broker Aon insisted it would continue to do everything it reasonably could to support AdvanFort in the difficult situation.
She said: “We sympathise with AdvanFort, the crew and their families, and of course desire to see the families reunited as quickly as possible.
“Aon is AdvanFort’s insurance broker and does not act as the insurer or underwriter and therefore lacks authorisation to pay any claim. We will continue in our efforts to work with AdvanFort, its attorneys and its insurers to seek to resolve the situation.”
The 35 men have appeared several times in a Tuticorin court for bail hearings. Bail has now been agreed in principle and they are expected in court again tomorrow to find out the bail terms.
None of the relatives of the jailed men who were contacted were willing to comment at this stage.
Aberdeen Journals Limited