105 Somali nationals charged with hijacking vessels at sea
Charges were framed against 105 Somali nationals in three separate cases by the sessions court on Tuesday. All the alleged pirates pleaded not guilty and the trial against them is expected to begin after the court frames charges in a fourth case against 15 other pirates.
In all, 120 Somali nationals were arrested between January and March 2011. The first batch of 15 were caught on January 28, 2011, near the Lakshadweep islands. They allegedly held 20 Thai and Myanmar nationals hostage in a vessel, Prantalay 14. On February 6, 2011, the Navy and Coastguard intercepted Prantalay 11 and rescued 24 Thai nationals and arrested 28 Somali nationals near the Lakshadweep Islands.
In March, two vessels — Vega 5 and Morteza — were intercepted, near the Lakshadweep Islands and 77 Somali nationals were arrested from the vessels.
“They have been charged with unlawful assembly, attempt to murder, and assault on public servants to prevent them from doing their duties, abductions for ransom.
They are also charged under various sections of the Arms Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act,” said special public prosecutor Ranjeet Sangle.
The court is expected to frame charges against the remaining 15 by February 16. “The prosecution has to argue first on why the charges should be framed. If the court agrees with the arguments, then the charges are framed. Arguments are still going on in the fourth case,” Sangle said.