Somali pirates to face trial after Indian navy capture

The Indian navy captured the suspects on the MV Ruen that was hijacked by pirates of Somalia. They will be prosecuted in India, a departure from recent practices of dealing with pirates

India's navy stepped up anti-piracy patrols last year following a surge in maritime assaults. (photo: DW)
India's navy stepped up anti-piracy patrols last year following a surge in maritime assaults. (photo: DW)


Thirty-five suspected Somali pirates arrived in Mumbai aboard the Indian Navy destroyer INS Kolkata on Saturday, 23 March.

They were apprehended in a daring high-seas Indian naval operation last week that recaptured a hijacked ship and freed its hostages.

"INS Kolkata, with the 35 apprehended pirates returned to Mumbai on 23 March," a navy statement said.

In a video released by news agency ANI, the men can be seen standing at the dock by the ship surrounded by navy commandos.

Navy spokesperson Vivek Madhwal said this is the first time in more than a decade pirates would be brought to Indian shores to be prosecuted. It is a departure from India's recent practice of leaving disarmed pirates at sea after rescuing vessels and crew.

The accused could face the death penalty or life imprisonment under India's anti-piracy laws.

India's anti-piracy operations

The MV Ruen, flying a Maltese flag, was hijacked in December off Somalia. It was the first cargo vessel seized by pirates since 2017.

The pirates had converted the vessel into a mother-ship to launch attacks on other boats, the Navy said.

Indian Navy commandos parachuted out of a military airplane to board the vessel in an assault that forced the pirates to surrender, according to the Navy.

The successful operation also freed all 17 crew members of the Ruen.

Since December, India has deployed at least a dozen warships in the Gulf of Aden and the northern Arabian Sea as shipping routes in the Red Sea have come under attack by Iran-backed Houthi militants of Yemen.

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Published: 25 Mar 2024, 9:13 AM