120 Somali pirates want to plead guilty in court


Mumbai: In a significant development, the 120 alleged Somali pirates nabbed in four operations expressed their intention to plead guilty in the case.

This intention was communicated to the visiting officials of the Somalian embassy from Delhi earlier this week, which in turn was relayed in writing to the state home department on Wednesday.

In the event the plea is accepted after all the legal procedures are completed, the accused face conviction. Special public prosecutor Ranjit Sangle communicated the development to the court conducting the trial. The accused could end up serving their jail term in their home country, court sources said.

So far, all of the 77 Indian witnesses listed have deposed during the trial over the last three years. Statements of several international hostages rescued in the operations have also been received while some others are awaited.

Meanwhile, Sangle also filed the replies to the 32 applications filed by the accused. The prosecution opposed the bail pleas of all the accused. The matter will now come up for hearing on Friday before additional sessions judge Abhinandan Patangankar.

The 120 pirates were nabbed in four operations carried out by the Indian Coast Guard and the Indian Navy off Lakshadweep in 2011. The Coast Guard and the navy later handed over the pirates to the Yellow Gate police to carry out the inquiry. The pirates have been booked on charges of attempt to murder. The first batch of 15 pirates was captured on January 28 in a 28-hour operation by the Indian Navy and rescued 20 fishermen of Thai and Myanmarese nationalities.

On February 6, 2012, 28 pirates were caught in a joint operation by Coast Guard and Indian Navy; 24 Thai fishermen were rescued. On March 12, Indian Navy warships intercepted a pirate mother ship, Vega 5, about 600 nautical miles off the country’s west coast, and captured 61 pirates; 13 fishermen were rescued.