Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Jailed Santa Barbara women released on bail


A 16-day stint in an Indian jail ended yesterday for two Santa Barbara women after a judge there granted the women’s request for bail.
The women, Monica Bond, 57, and Heather Bond, 37, had their bail request denied two times prior to yesterday’s ruling.
The news sent a wave of optimism back to Santa Barbara where the women’s loved ones had grown increasingly frustrated with the situation.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said Sean McGaughey, Heather Bond’s boyfriend. “I’ve been told that they’re OK but I don’t know what OK is.”
As of yesterday at 8 p.m., McGaughey said he had not yet heard from either woman, but was told they were in a hotel.
The women were detained by Indian authorities on April 14 after they attempted to board a flight near Darjeeling, India with a clip of 9 mm ammunition in a piece of luggage.
McGaughey has said the ammunition, which consisted of 11 bullets, belonged to him and was accidentally left in Heather Bond’s bag after a camping trip. He said the ammunition made it undetected through security at four different international airports, including LAX.
As a condition of the bail, the women had to turn over their passports and visas to police and must report to an investigating officer every two weeks, The Telegraph, a daily newspaper in Calcutta, India reported. The bail for each woman was set at 2,000 Indian Rupees, or about $50.
Lawrence Bond, Monica’s husband, said he was relieved when he heard the news and hopes a hearing scheduled for May 2 will be the last.
He said he’s not sure what the conditions were like in the jail, which is located near the city of Siliguri, but he was told they were sleeping upon grass mats on the floor.
The Telegraph reported on April 15 that the women were being held on ammunition related charges under the Indian Arms Act and if convicted, could face three to seven years in prison.
Lawrence Bond said the women’s attorney in India, Abhoy Pada Chatterjee, told him a provision in the Indian Arms Act instructs judges to deny bail, which is likely the reason the request failed the first two times.
“Lets hope it’s all positive from her on out,” he said.

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