Cordele man held captive in Honduras - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Cordele man held captive in Honduras

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CORDELE, GA (WALB) -

A Cordele man is one of six Americans being held in a prison in Honduras on weapons charges.

His brother is working to set him and his co-workers free. 

Corey Cook says his brother and his co-workers are being falsely imprisoned and now he's fighting for the release of the men.

Nicholas Cook is sitting in a Honduran prison. May 5th, 2014, Cook and his five crew mates were working off the coast of Honduras, removing logs from the bottom of the ocean.

"They went to the report office at the end of business and they were told to come back in the morning to finish the paperwork," said Corey Cook.

Soon, Honduran police arrested the crew, took their vessel and put them in prison. The six Americans are charged with illegal possession of firearms.

"I got a phone call from Michael McCabe, the photographer there and he told me what was going on and what's happening and we'll keep you posted," said Cook.

The company Nicholas works for, Aqua Quest says there were weapons on board, but is used for protection against pirates. Cook finally heard from his brother several days later.

"He's in good spirits and doing well. He's says the crew is doing well," said Cook.

Cook says his brother sends a message to his family in Cordele.

"They have done nothing wrong and to not worry and for mom not to worry. Everyone is okay," said Cook.

Aqua Quest says the charges are false. Support is growing for the men.

"Whoever we feel is of influence in aiding this. We contacted the U.S. embassy and the FBI is aware as well as the Honduran government," said Cook.

Cook says an appeal has been filed to set the men free.

Cook says they've set up a funding campaign to reduce the legal cost and support of the crew while in prison.  Below is a press release from Aqua Quest International, where all six of the men are employed.

 

                        Phony Firearms Charges Used to Imprison 6 Americans in Honduras   

On the afternoon of May 5th, 2014, The US flagged vessel Aqua Quest, entered the Caratasca Lagoon opening eight miles from the docks of the small town of Puerto Lempira in the Mosquito Coast area where it was to check in with the Port Captain.  The team was traveling to Honduras to work on a cooperative project with the Municipality of Ahuas and Miskito Indians;  a project several years in the making and one that would have a positive effect on the struggling residents.  The Honduran Navy placed a Pilot onboard to guide the Aqua Quest through the shallow canal and into port. The pilot instead ran it up on a sand bar. The Captain of the Aqua Quest was finally able to get to shore just before the Port's office closed for business at 4 p.m.  The Port Captain said it was too late to fully process their customs entry that day but confirmed that he would be ready at 6 a.m. to review their paperwork and told them to get a good nights rest.

 While the crew was sleeping, Naval and Local Police boarded, claiming to have authority to inspect the vessel and seized the Aqua Quest and arrested/imprisoned the crew. The next morning the Port Captain objected to the seizing of the vessel and the crew but was ignored by the local police. 

At the arraignment hearing thirty hours later, the Port Captain continued to protest that proper procedures were not followed. He stated that any firearms on board, if not allowed onto Honduran territory, would have been kept in his offices.   

 At a hearing on Tuesday May 13th, 2014, the men were ordered to be further illegally detained for the false firearms charges.  The boat was placed in the custody of the Honduran Navy.

The laws and procedures surrounding the case are clearly on the side of the Captain and crew. They are disputed only by the local judge and prosecutor.  The ship was well within its rights to protect itself while traveling in troubled International waters.  Detailed review of Honduran law and International protocol adopted and previously adhered to by Honduras, reveals that the Port Captain is to be the first to board a foreign vessel. He has the right to hold any firearms at his discretion.  This did not happen. the Navy and Police intercepted the vessel, circumventing maritime protocol. The firearms officer with proper credentials on board the Aqua Quest was never called to testify during the truncated hearing.  

 As of today, the six law abiding American citizens remain in a Honduran prison. They are Robert  Mayne Jr, Michael Mayne Sr, Nick Cook, Devon Butler, Kelly Garrett and Steve Matanich. Growing support for the Americans has come from local leaders, US Senate and Congressional members, The State Department and the American Embassy.
 

Aqua Quest International

 

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