April 25, 2017 3:08:51 am
FIFTEEN SOMALI men who had accepted a voluntary plea of guilt in a piracy case submitted before the court Monday that they should be deported back to their country.The court was recording their statements under section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Under the provision, the accused is specifically asked about incriminating evidence against him and is given an opportunity to speak.
On Monday, Ahmed Mohammed, the first secretary to the Embassy of Somalia in New Delhi, acted as interpreter to the men and explained the process along with advocate Vishwajeet Singh to the 15 men brought from Taloja prison.
A total of 91 questions, on the basis of the evidence before court by special public prosecutor Ranjeet Sangle including witness statements of Indian Navy officials and hostages, were first put to the men collectively.
On being asked about the Indian Navy operation, the men responded saying sahi hai to accept that it had taken place. They were further asked about their piracy operation, their attack on the Indian Navy and the 22 hostages held by them. On being asked why they had not responded to the radio communication by the Navy, the men said that the radio was not working.
The men told the court that there were 25 pirates and 10 of them had drowned. “Dus the. Tairna nahi aata tha, paani mey mar gaye (there were 10, couldn’t swim, drowned in the water),” one of them told court. The others added that two of the hostages were also injured.
The court then asked each one of them to come into the witness box, giving them an opportunity to speak. While 13 of them spoke with the help of the interpreter, two spoke in Hindi. In each of their pleas they sought to be reunited with their families and sent back to their country.
Bon Jon Ali, a 33-year old, told the court, “Bohot saal ho gaye jail mey. Biwi baccho ka kuch maloom nahi hai. Unko koi sahara nahi hai (We have spent many years in prison. I do not have information about my wife and children. They do not have anyone to support them),” he said.
Lodged in Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai since 2011, Ali then went on to speak about prison food. “Humein macchi khaane ki aadat hai. Jail ka khana pachta nahi, pasand nahi hai, (We are habituated to eating fish. We are unable to digest jail food, we don’t like it),” he told the court.
Rage Risaq, 24, began and ended his plea with Jai Hind and told the court that he wanted to return home. Others too said that the six years of imprisonment has been ‘punishment enough’ and they wanted to return home. Each of the accused said that since they had already accepted guilt, they hoped that the court could show mercy and give them lesser punishment or an order to be deported back.
A total of 118 Somali nationals are currently on trial in four separate cases for a spate of piracy operations in 2011. The case involving the 15 men was the first which occurred on January 28, 2011 when the Indian Navy rescued 22 hostages and arrested 15 Somali men from mother vessel Prantalaya 14.
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