Four Nigerian and Liberian stowaways were convicted from a UK court for the crime of affray for supposedly throwing fecal matter and threatening the crew of the Grimaldi con/ro Grande Tema last year. The defendants were cleared of the more serious charge of attempted hijacking.
One of the defendants was also convicted of making a threat to kill. The charge of affray is a UK offense for using or threatening to use unlawful violence and holds a maximum penalty of three years in prison.
Last December and while the Grande Tema was on transit from Lagos, Nigeria to Tilbury, UK, the defendants, aged between 20 and 28 years old, were discovered by the crew and were confined. Five days after their confinement, the stowaways reportedly broke free and ordered to be taken ashore in the United Kingdom.
The 27 crewmembers of Grande Tema then locked themselves on the bridge in order to ensure their own safety and then informed the authorities. The crew also filmed the men threatening them from outside the bridge. The crewmembers then navigated the vessel in a holding pattern in the English Channel, off Margate, and waited for assistance there.
A team from the Royal Marines Special Boat Service’s X Squadron abseiled 14 hours later onto the deck of Grande Tema from helicopters and arrested the stowaways. The operation lasted for about 25 minutes and no injuries were reported in the process of regaining the control of the ship.
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