The Times of IndiaBy Ajmal KasabMonday, January 28, 2013
In the trial of 120 Somali pirates, the prosecution wants 70 former hostages from seven foreign countries to depose in a Sewri fast-track court. Among the charges against the pirates are kidnapping, murder and waging war against India. The pirates were captured by the Indian Navy in several raids. The hostages rescued in the raids were from Turkey, Iran, Thailand, the Philippines, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan. An example of foreigners deposing in Indian courts is FBI officers appearing in court against Ajmal Kasab during the 26/11 trial. The pirates' trial began on January 21. Till date, six prime witnesses have deposed before the court. About 60 of the pirates were caught in March 2011 when naval ships intercepted a mother vessel, Vega 5, inthe Arabian Sea about 600 nautical miles from India. Some were netted when the navy launched an assault to free the fishing trawler Al Murtaza. In the raids, 11 AK-47 rifles with magazines, 10 AK-47s without magazines and two rocket launchers were seized. "Before the freed hostages left India, they gave in writing that they would be back to appear before the court whenever required during the pirates' trial. Letters have been sent to the consulates of all seven countries and we are waiting for their replies. If it does not work out, we will have to rely on video conference," said a security source. "The Union home ministry wants to expedite the trial. Earlier, a group of pirates had tried to strike a deal with the government, promising to free 46 Indian hostages (in their custody) if the government freed the pirates," he said. After arresting the pirates, the police found it difficult to understand their language. Later, they found two MBA students hailing from Somalia and requested them to act as interpreters. Last March, after charges were brought against the accused, the two interpreters came to court and were paid Rs 3,000 each per hearing.