India to charge Somali pirates and their hostages

AHMEDABAD, India - Indian police said Wednesday they would charge 14 suspected Somali pirates and their three hostages who drifted to within kilometres (miles) of the country’s west coast in a fishing boat.

By (AFP)

Published: Wed 22 Jun 2011, 6:11 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 10:40 PM

A senior police official said that investigators believed three Yemeni men found on the trawler were hostages of the alleged pirates, who are believed to have hijacked the vessel two weeks ago off the coast of Somalia.

The Yemenis told police the boat had been adrift in the Indian Ocean after running out of fuel and had been carried to the Indian coast by the tide.

All 17 men were detained in the coastal district of Junagarh in Gujarat state, some 300 kilometres (186 miles) southwest from the main regional city of Ahmedabad.

“After interrogation we have ascertained that the Somali nationals are pirates who had kidnapped the three Yemenis,” Junagarh police chief Depankar Trivedi told AFP by telephone.

He said police would press charges against the Somalis and their captives for entering India without valid travel documents.

The official said the Somalis were only charged with trespassing because the hijacking occurred beyond India’s jurisdiction in international waters.

“We are charging them only for the violation of Indian laws,” he said, adding the three Yemenis did not possess travel documents and so were also in breach of India’s Passport Act.

Trivedi said a marine police team detained the men on Sunday after local fishermen reported the presence of the Yemen-flagged vessel only a couple of kilometres (miles) off the coast of Gujarat.

India’s coastguard and navy are on high alert against pirates seeking to evade the international force patrolling waters off Somalia by attacking shipping much further east in the Indian Ocean.

More than 100 pirates have been caught and are awaiting trial in India following a series of violent skirmishes near the country’s Lakshadweep islands since the start of this year.

India, which does not have a specific anti-piracy-law, is planning to frame legislation to deal with the scourge.

More news from WORLD