There might finally be some good news for the Somali pirates arrested in 2011 in four separate anti-piracy operations conducted by the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard. Of the 120 pirates arrested, two died of tuberculosis, while 118 are currently lodged in Navi Mumbai's Taloja Road jail. According to a report in The Indian Express, the trial against them is ending at a Mumbai court six years later, with the men having agreed to plead guilty, some to murder charges.
It is arguably the most number of foreign undertrials in a single case anywhere in the country. Some of the accused are expected to walk free, having already served their sentence as undertrials, while others could be sent back to Somalia to serve the remainder of the term at home, the report said.
Last year, the accused had told the court they wanted to plead guilty. Suraj Hulke, who was appointed by the court as amicus curiae, claimed that the Somali Embassy had not consulted him on the decision.
The report said that advocate Vishwajeet Singh, representing the Somali Embassy, had told the court last year that the men were willing to give an undertaking that they would not cross-examine the remaining witnesses, nor appeal against the sentence unless it was the death penalty.
The accused said their previous plea of not guilty may be disregarded. According to The Times of India, this comes at the fag end of a trial that commenced in late 2012, with 70 witnesses deposing and difficulties caused by the absence of several foreign national witnesses.
The Times of India reported that about 50 pirates booked for murder could face the death sentence, the maximum punishment under the sections they were booked under. All accused have also been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), and the maximum sentence this can invite is life imprisonment.
Ahmed Mohammed, first secretary to the Embassy of Somalia in New Delhi, told The Indian Express that they expect an expedited trial, after which a decision will be taken on taking the men back home.
Published Date: Apr 06, 2017 05:20 pm | Updated Date: Apr 06, 2017 06:03 pm