Three foreigners to depose in Somali pirates trial



Mumbai: Three countries have agreed to send their nationals to depose as witnesses before a sessions court trying 120 Somali pirates arrested by Indian Navy and Coast Guard from high seas in several operations.

The court had sent summons to 91 foreigners, belonging to Pakistan, Mozambique, Thailand, Iran, Myanmar and Indonesia, and rescued by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard between January and April 2011, to depose before it as witnesses around six months back.

However, only Mozambique, Iran and Indonesia have complied with the summons but with a rider.

"They (three countries) have placed a condition that India will have to bear the expenses of travelling, boarding and lodging", said special public prosecutor Ranjeet Sangle.

A total of 120 sea brigands were apprehended between January and March 2011 and charged under relevant sections of Indian Penal Code and Arms Act.

The first batch of 15 pirates, holding 20 Thai and Myanmarese nationals as hostages on their mother vessel 'Prantalay 14', was intercepted by Indian Navy on January 28, 2011. On February 6, the Navy and Coast Guard had intercepted another vessel 'Prantalay 11' and rescued 24 Thai nationals and arrested 28 pirates.

In March 2011, in two operations, two vessels - 'Vega 5' and 'Morteza' - were intercepted and 77 pirates held.

Their charges include kidnapping, murder and under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

The court had framed charges against all the pirates in January last year. A total of 17 witnesses have been examined so far while 50 more are yet to depose.

PTI