A decision taken last week by India to sign a bilateral prisoner transfer agreement with the Republic of Somalia has paved the way for the return of 118 Somalis under trial, lodged in Taloja jail since 2011, once their trial concludes.
Special public prosecutor Ranjeet Sangle said that the 118 alleged pirates will be sent back to Somalia under the Transfer of Prisoners Act, 2003, and will undergo the rest of their sentences in their country if they are convicted. The agreement can be signed with any sovereign nation for mutual transfer of prisoners among signatory nations.
An official from the Somalia embassy said two countries would soon sign the agreement. Sangle said the treaty would cover existing cases and future ones of prisoners belonging to either country held in the other.
“It is a practical and beneficial decision in as much as Indian tax -payers’ money is saved and security concerns are taken care of. On a humanitarian note, the pirates get to serve their sentences in their home country, where their families can at least see them,” Sangle said.
The Mumbai district city civil and sessions court is at the stage of hearing final arguments against the 118 Somali nationals arrested on charges including those under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The men were arrested in four separate operations by the Indian Navy along with the Coast Guard between January and March 2011. Last year, they filed an application before the court seeking to plead guilty, and asked for leniency.