The Somali government informed the city Civil and Sessions Court on Thursday that 120 of its nationals undergoing trial in Mumbai intended to plead guilty to charges of piracy. The pirates want to submit a guilty plea in the hope of expediting the trial which is inching towards the final stages.
“The communication received from the Embassy of the Republic of Somali states that the accused intend to plead guilty. The letter is accompanied by signatures of the 120 accused,” said Special Public Prosecutor Ranjit Sangle.
Sangle told the court that the communication came after the latest visit of embassy officials to Taloja Jail where the pirates have been incarcerated. “At a meeting on October 26 under the chairmanship of the additional chief secretary, Home, it was expressed that the pirates want to plead guilty,” he added.
Vishwajeet Singh, a Delhi-based lawyer, representing the Somali Embassy said that it had got an indication from the pirates that they wanted an early conclusion of the trial. “The embassy then wrote to the Maharashtra government and the Union government,” he said.
“The pleas of the accused will have to be recorded. Each accused will file an application separately, pleading guilty to the offences,” Sangle told the court.
Some 80 witnesses, including 18 foreign nationals, have been examined by the court and only 15 are yet to be produced, Hulke said. Judge Abhinandan J Patangankar of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act Court will make a decision regarding the guilty plea on Friday.
The pirates were arrested in a joint operation of the indian Navy and Coast Guard in the Indian Ocean in 2011 for hijacking two ships and holding the crew to ransom. Two sailors from Pakistan and Iran were killed in the case. The pirates were charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Indian Arms Act and Indian Penal Code.
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