Mumbai: Somalian pirates acquitted of murder, get 7 years in jail

This is the 2nd batch to be convicted for 2011 hijacking; lack of evidence led to murder acquittal

Police escort Somalian pirates to Yellow Gate police station
Police escort Somalian pirates to Yellow Gate police station

A special court in the city has sentenced the second batch of 16 Somalian pirates to seven years in prison for hijacking a fishing vessel that had sailed from Iran in 2011.

The pirates had taken the Iranian and Pakistani crew hostage and rigged the ship up as their mother vessel, launching attacks from there. One crew member committed suicide due to torture, while another was allegedly shot dead by the pirates. They were acquitted of the murder charge.

Invaders from sea
The complainant in the case, Commander Mundakel, said he along with the eight officers and around 99 personnel was on an anti-piracy patrol at Lakshadweep on March 25, 2011. While patrolling the next day, the ship INS Suvarna received information that a vessel, Maersk Kensington, had been attacked by pirates. The pirates were operating out of their mother vessel Morteza — the Iranian fishing boat they had hijacked.

Also read: Somalian pirates convicted for 2010 hijacking can return home in a year

There was firing by the pirates, and the Navy officers opened retaliatory fire. After the rescue was completed, the officers learnt that 16 of the survivors were Somalian pirates, while the remaining 16 were hostages — 12 were Iranian crew members and four were Pakistanis.

The police said the original master of the mother vessel Morteza said he had set sail from Chabahar, Iran, with a crew of 18, out of which one committed suicide due to torture. Another crew member was shot dead on the deck by the pirates. They were hijacked near Seychelles and were then rerouted to Somalia, where they were kept for a month while the trawler was equipped with arms and ammunition.

In the court
Judge Jayendra C Jagdale convicted the 16 of conspiracy, attempt to murder and abduction under the IPC along with the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The accused were acquitted of murder because there was no evidence that the person was shot by the pirates.

The court is likely to pass an order on 2 more cases against Somalian pirates this week.

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Blue Whale suicides

Number of crew members taken hostage

Number of hostages dead, one of whom was shot

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