A family fighting to have a detained sailor released back home say they are delighted his case has been discussed between the leaders of the countries involved.
For more than two years, family and friends of Nick Dunn have been campaigning for his release after he was among 36 sailors arrested by Indian authorities on gun charges.
The 29-year-old, from Ashington, was on an American-owned pirate hunting ship off the Indian coast when the crew members were taken to shore and arrested.
As the court hearing progresses in Indian, Nick’s case was discussed by Prime Minister David Cameron and his counterpart Narendra Modi while the Indian Prime Minister was visiting the United Kingdom last week.
Nick’s sister Lisa said: “We feel it’s a very positive step forward. It’s what we’ve been asking for over the last 25 months so for it to finally be addressed at the highest level is a positive step.
“We don’t know what was said, we’re not privy to that information, but the very fact it’s been raised and mentioned then it gives us a little bit more hope and gives us a boost that it has now reached the highest level.
“We hope Prime Minister Modi takes on board what was said, looks at the case, looks at the facts and sees there is no evidence against the men. I hope he speaks to the Indian authorities dealing with the case and gets things moving.”
The case against the men – who initially had the charges against them dropped until an appeal was lodged – is continuing in an Indian court and is expected to last another few weeks.
Following the cross examination of witnesses, the case will start to hear the evidence from November 23, and Lisa is hopeful once the court hears there is no real evidence, then the case will be thrown out again.
Lisa added: “There is still plenty of time for Nick to be hope for Christmas. It’s not looking good for him but we’re not thinking of that at the minute.
“Nick hasn’t been well at the minute. He is suffering from a chest infection and I think it’s due to all the stress.
“He’s starting to get nervous. We’re getting closer to a decision which could see him released home or sentenced to seven years in prison.
“He’s still receiving a lot of support from his friends.”
In the meantime, the families are being supported by The Mission To Seafarers – plus a petition signed by 150,000 people – who have written to the Indian authorities asking for diplomatic intervention.
In the letter, Nick wrote: “During the 25 months I have been detained in India, my mother has been critically ill.
“We are all innocent men and I respectfully request that you please look into this case and help me get home this Christmas to be with my loved ones, especially my mother.”