The Mumbai sessions court on Friday convicted 26 Somalian pirates to seven years in prison in connection with a 2011 merchant ship attack case.
Initially, there were 28 accused in the case. However, during the trial that lasted six long years, one of the accused died in a Mumbai jail.
Another accused named Atoor Bashir Barare, who was lodged at the Talika jail with others, was rushed to the hospital after he complained of dizziness.
Special Public Prosecutor Ranjeet Sangale told the court that he was being given oxygen and was responding well to treatment.
Appearing for the pirates, advocate Vishwajeet Singh told the court that the jail authorities should be directed to send the accused who were not feeling well to the hospital immediately.
“They keep waiting until the patients’ condition gets serious. That’s how we have lost two people in the case. Many of the accused are suffering from diabetes and tuberculosis.”
There were, overall, 120 accused arrested between January and March 2011 for attacking merchant vessels, and hijacking and looting them.
This is the third case in which the court pronounced its ruling.
The court has already convicted more than 30 pirates in two different judgments.
In this particular case on February 5, 2011, Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Samar was patrolling around Lakshwadeep when it got information about a merchant ship Chois of Greek nationality being attacked by pirates.
The naval ship diverted towards the location where the attack was underway and reached there on February 6.
The Coast Guard ship saw that the piracy vessel had no lights and they were not moving anywhere.
Over the radio, they asked the pirate mother vessel to surrender. Apart from Samar, there was another Indian naval ship ‘Tir’ in the area and a dinner aircraft was also called in to help.
The aircraft located that there was another vessel Prantalaya – 11 from Thailand had been hijacked by the pirates. The pirates also fired at the Indian ship following which the Coast Guard ship had to open retaliatory fire.
After sustained fireworks from both sides that included rockets being launched by Indian ships, the pirates finally started throwing their weapons into the sea and showed white flags to surrender.
The convicts have already served six years of their sentence during the trial and if they do not pay the fine imposed in the sentence, they will have to serve a few more months in jail apart from their seven-month sentence. Soon after the judgment, the convicts were handcuffed outside the courtroom while they waited to be sent back to jail.
After the conviction and sentencing, Sangale said, “India is leading from the front and by example in the fight against ocean piracy.
It has demonstrated its commitment to the international community in ensuring safe and secure piracy-free oceans in the Indian subcontinent, which is essential for maritime trade.
This was the third consecutive conviction of Somali pirates this month, taking the total count of such convictions to 59.”
The court has directed the jail authorities to produce Barare in the court on Monday if he has recovered so that the judgment can be pronounced in his case as well.