Nine Somali men to face trial in India over hijacking of Iranian fishing vessel

Indian Navy have taken the alleged pirates to Mumbai for prosecution

India brought nine alleged Somali pirates to Mumbai for trial over charges of hijacking an Iranian fishing vessel last month and keeping its Pakistani crew hostage. Photo: Indian Navy
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Nine Somali men accused of hijacking an Iranian fishing vessel last month will face trial in Mumbai, the Indian Navy said on Wednesday, less than two weeks after detaining dozens of pirates.

The Indian Navy has been sent in the Indian Ocean and surrounding areas following an increase in piracy.

Special commandos of the Navy launched an anti-piracy operation on March 29 after pirates hijacked the vessel, called Al Kambar, about 90 nautical miles south-west off Socotra in the Indian Ocean.

The pirates were reportedly carrying AK-47 rifles, hand grenades and rocket launchers. They took 23 members of a Pakistani crew hostage.

The pirates surrendered to Indian Navy commandos after an operation lasting 12 hours and were taken to Mumbai on April 3. The men were then handed over to police, the Indian Navy said on X.

“Robust actions by Indian Navy ships Trishul and Sumedha during anti-piracy operations East of Somalia on March 29 had resulted in successful rescue of FV Al Kambar and its crew of 23 Pakistani nationals. All nine pirates involved in piracy were apprehended for further transit to India,” the Indian Navy said.

It added that naval forces used “intensive coercive tactical measures after which the pirates surrendered”.

The Indian Navy said all the men were arrested under the country's anti-piracy law, the Maritime Anti-Piracy Act, 2022, which allows New Delhi to capture pirates and prosecute them for crimes in India.

If found guilty, the stringent law could lead the men to serve life sentences or face the death penalty.

“INS Trishul arrived [in] Mumbai on April 2 and handed over all nine pirates to the local police for further legal action in accordance with Indian laws, specifically the Maritime Anti-Piracy Act 2022,” the Indian Navy said.

It said the vessel was cleared and medical aid was provided to the crew before allowing the ship to continue with fishing activities.

This is the second time in less than two weeks that the Navy has brought alleged Somali pirates to Mumbai for prosecution. It brought 35 Somali pirates to Mumbai on March 23 to face trial on charges of hijacking after they captured a Malta-flagged bulk cargo vessel in the Arabian Sea, along with its crew of 17 sailors in December.

During the 40-hour operation, Indian troops intercepted the hijacked ship about 482km east of Somalia.

The Indian Navy last month said it sent 10 warships, along with surveillance aircraft, sea guardian drones and a significant number of personnel, to undertake anti-piracy and anti-drone operations amid a spate of attempted hijackings in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and Red Sea.

Updated: April 04, 2024, 8:30 PM