Wednesday, May 18, 2011

High sea villains to face Indian law for the first time

For the first time, pirates caught on the high seas will face the Indian law. Fifteen suspected Somali pirates nabbed in a joint operation by the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard will be brought to India and tried in an Indian court. They will be handed over to the Yellow Gate police today morning.
The pirates had launched an attack on MV CMA CGM Verdi, a merchant vessel flagged from Bahamas around 10.30 am. The crew spotted two high-speed skiffs approaching the vessel and alerted the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) on the IBSAR radio seeking help.
A CG Dornier was flown to the spot. On noticing the aircraft, the skiffs changed direction and moved towards another vessel. The small boats were hoisted aboard another vessel, identified as Prantalay. It was the mother vessel being used by the pirates.
Prantalay tried to escape moving towards the West, but it was intercepted by INS Cankarso, a recently commissioned fast attack aircraft. After a chase of three hours Cankarso finally closed in and tried to establish contact with Prantalay on the international mercantile marine band radio. The crew did not respond.
A warning shot was fired from Cankarso above the bows of Prantalay to make it stop but and its crew started returning fire.
The pirates’ vessel caught fire in the exchange of gun shots. Naval personnel spotted people jumping off Prantaly and rescued them.
Twenty of them were Thai and Myamarese fishermen. They were held hostage on the vessel since April last year when the vessel was hijacked.
Fifteen pirates were also nabbed and taken into custody. A senior defence personnel said there had been several instances where pirate attacks were thwarted but crew members of the vessels asked naval personnel to release the pirates fearing that they would attack them later.
“Moreover, if the attack happens in international waters nothing much can be done against the pirates,’’ he said.