Pirates trial: foreign witnesses to depose via video-conferencing
By Sharmeen Hakim Indorewala
The state government has agreed to provide Rs 31 lakh for the purpose.
Almost after a year’s hiatus, the trial against the 120 Somali pirates is likely to resume as the state has agreed to provide Rs 31 lakh to arrange the deposition of 18 foreign witnesses via videoconferencing.
The pirates have been charged with Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, in addition to attempted murder, unlawful assembly, criminal intimidation, criminal conspiracy, hijacking a ship and carrying weapons under IPC. They have also been booked for waging war against the nation and under various sections of the Arms Act.
The trial was at its fag-end after 81 witnesses who were examined due to the non-availability of foreign national witnesses. However, the remaining 18 witnesses from 6 different countries will now be able to depose from the capital of their respective countries via video-conferencing based on the arrangements made by the state.
The prosecution told the court on Tuesday that in a meeting held with the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s office, an assurance for the sanction has been given.
Special public prosecutor Ranjit Sangli while speaking to Mumbai Mirror said, “This money, as soon as it is sanctioned, will help in the Indian Mission abroad for making arrangements of the respective countries for their travel to the capital and video-conferencing facilities.”
In March 2011, the Indian Navy and Coast Guard arrested 120 pirates in several raids and rescued 70 hostages belonging to India, Thailand, Philippines, Bangladesh, Iran, Turkey, Myanmar and Pakistan. Arms such as AK-47s with magazines and rocket launchers were recovered from them.
The witnesses belong to countries including Iran, Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand, Mozambique and Bangladesh.
According to the Indian law, an accused in a case is entitled to witness the entire proceedings conducted against him. Since the accused in the present case are Somalians and do not understand any other language, the deposition of all the witnesses have been translated by five students from Pune.