- Six Americans are accused of trying to smuggle weapons into Honduras on their ship
- The 2 handguns, 2 shotguns and a semiautomatic rifle seized are for defense, ship's captain says
- He says an appellate court will decide whether to throw out the case or hear arguments
- The Americans say they aim to split profits from log salvaging with a Honduran municipality
Six Americans imprisoned in Honduras for nearly a month, accused of trying to smuggle weapons into the country, will have a new hearing to determine their fate, the ship's captain said.
Robert Mayne and his crew were arrested on May 5 after Honduran authorities boarded their ship and discovered a couple of handguns, two shotguns and a semiautomatic rifle. Mayne said the weapons are for his crew's protection against would-be pirates on the high seas. He said judicial officials in rural eastern Honduras, where their ship entered the country, disagree.
The case is being transferred to an appellate court, Mayne told CNN by phone from a prison in Puerto Lempira. The court will decide whether to throw out the case or hear arguments from both sides.
"Everyone tells us this would never happen in any other port in Honduras," he said Sunday, expressing his frustration with the judge's and state prosecutor's interpretation of the law.
"We have the right to do it (carry arms) for protection on the high seas," he added.
Mayne and his crew are treasure hunters for Florida-based Aqua Quest International. He said they always carry arms when sailing international waters and made clear to Honduran officials before their arrival that they would have weapons on their ship. They were in Honduras to work with local officials in the country's impoverished, rural municipality of Ahuas to remove valuable mahogany logs from a nearby riverbed, remnants of decades of logging.
He said profits from the sale of the recovered logs would be split between the salvage company and the municipality for a social project there.