Cuttack, Jan 17 :
The Odisha High Court today acquitted US national William Michael Hurtubise, who was arrested by Commissionerate Police on September 18 on charges of illegal possession of eight .22 mm live bullets in his luggage during a routine check at the Biju Patnaik Airport and quashed the FIR as well as the criminal case pending against him in the lower court.
The judgement came as a huge relief to William, who had been sent to jail and even after securing bail, was asked by a local court not to leave Bhubaneswar until the case is disposed of.
“I am very happy with the judgment. It ‘s such a great relief,” Hurtubise said after the judge pronounced the verdict.
Justice SC Parija upheld the stout defence put up by William’s counsel and senior lawyer Sarat Kumar Gajendra and said a person carrying bullets without firearm can not be be considered ‘armed’. The judge also disapproved of the manner in which police dealt with the case as also the fact that he was kept under confinement in Bhubaneswar all these days, lawyer Gajendra said.
The learned judge ordered the refund of the surety money of Rs 50,000 deposited by William for his bail on 21 October and also the return of his visa and passport with immediate effect, his counsel Gajendra told OST.
The US oil engineer, employed with Korean oil exploration company STH, clarified that he was on his way to an off-shore oil well in the Bay of Bengal and not to Paradip as the media had reported widely. The services of his company were commissioned by the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC), the PSU giant owned by the Government of India, for oil exploration work in the Bay of Bengal.