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Somalia asks India to hand over arrested pirates

February 18, 2011 21:22 IST

The Somali government has asked India to hand over the 43 pirates, arrested off the coast of Lakshadweep during two separate operations recently, so that they can be put on trial in their country, police said.

In a response to the request by the police to arrange an interpreter for interrogation of the alleged pirates, the Somalian embassy has written a letter to Indian authorities, asking to hand over the accused, said Quaiser Khalid, deputy police commissioner (Port Zone).

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

"Earlier also pirates had been arrested and tried in Indian courts. Handing them over is not possible," Khalid added.

In two separate operations on January 29 and February 6, the navy and coast guard caught 43 Somalian pirates off the coast of Lakshadweep, who were later taken into custody by the city's Yellow Gate police station.

Police on Friday conducted identification parade of the accused.

The investigation is in progress and police would file the charge sheet within the stipulated period, Khalid said.

"We are coordinating with DG shipping and taking its help in the probe. Today identification parade of 15 pirates arrested on January 29 was conducted at Arthur Road jail. Thai victims, who were held hostage by the pirates, were present in the jail to identify them," Khalid said.

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

15 Somalians, apprehended by the Indian Navy after a gun-battle off the Lakshadweep coast when they were trying to hijack a foreign merchant vessel, were placed under arrest on January 31.

In the second operation, navy and coast guard caught 28b Somali pirates and rescued 24 Thai nationals held hostage on MT Chios, a Greece-flagged ship on the Arabian Sea February on 5. They were later brought to Mumbai and were arrested.

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