Somali government asks India to hand over pirates

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Mumbai, Feb 18 (PTI) The Somali government has askedIndia to hand over the 43 pirates, arrested off the coast ofLakshadweep during two separate operations recently, so thatthey can be put on trial in their country, police said.

In a response to the request by the police to arrangean interpreter for interrogation of the alleged pirates, theSomalian embassy has written a letter to Indian authorities,asking to hand over the accused, said Quaiser Khalid, DeputyPolice Commissioner (Port Zone).

"We already have two translators here to help us with theinvestigation. But to be on a safer side, we also requestedthe Somali embassy to arrange a translator. However, yesterdaywe received a letter in which the embassy requested us to handover the accused, so that they could be tried there(Somalia)," Khalid said.

"Earlier also pirates had been arrested and tried inIndian courts. Handing them over is not possible," Khalidadded.

In two separate operations undertaken on January 29and February 6, the Navy and Coast Guard caught 43 Somalianpirates off the coast of Lakshadweep, who were later takeninto custody by city''s Yellow Gate police station.

Police today conducted identification parade of theaccused.

The investigation is in progress and police would filethe chargesheet within the stipulated period, Khalid said.

MORE PTI VM KRK

"We are coordinating with DG shipping and taking its help in the probe. Today identification parade of 15 piratesarrested on January 29 was conducted at Arthur Road jail.

Thai victims, who were held hostage by the pirates, werepresent in the jail to identify them," Khalid said.

Of the 43 pirates, five are still in police custody whilethe rest are in judicial custody, he added.

15 Somalians, apprehended by the Indian Navy after agun-battle off the Lakshadweep coast when they were trying tohijack a foreign merchant vessel, were placed under arrest onJanuary 31.

In the second operation, Navy and Coast Guard caught 28Somali pirates and rescued 24 Thai nationals held hostage onMT Chios, a Greece-flagged ship on the Arabian Sea February on5. They were later brought to the city and were arrested. PTIVM KRK

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