Kochi | A special NIA court here today set free 10 Iranians and a Pakistani national after the investigating agency submitted a charge-sheet giving a clean chit to the men arrested from an Iranian dhow intercepted off Kerala coast last year. Pronouncing the verdict in the case, the court, however, said the Captain of the ship has been charged with a minor offence and he may have to remain in jail for some more time.
The Special NIA Court Judge, K M Balachandran, informed the 11 crew members that they will be given proper travel documents by the NIA. All the 12 accused are currently lodged at the Kakkanad district jail. An order in the case related to captain is likely to be given in two weeks, the court indicated and posted the case for hearing on March 28.
The Court has directed the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) to take over 11 crew members of the vessel for initiating procedures of their deportation. Meanwhile, NIA sources said the agency has contacted Iranian embassy and Pakistan High Commission to facilitate the deportation of the crew. In its chargesheet, the NIA, which conducted a detailed and scientific probe into the case, had stated that the crew members had no links either with any terror outfit or international drug mafia.
The captain of the vessel has been charged with violating the Maritime Zones of India (Regulation of Fishing by Foreign Vessels) Act-1981. It is an Act to provide for the regulation of fishing by foreign vessels in certain maritime zones of India. No other crew has been chargesheeted in the case, the NIA sources have said. The charge sheet was filed before the special NIA court here on March 14.
The Iranian dhow Barooki was intercepted by the Coast Guard and state police following intelligence inputs in July last year off the coast of Alappuzha and brought to Vizhinjam. The crew members were detained by the CG and police which recovered a satellite communication set and a Pakistani identity card from the vessel.
The case was later handed over to the NIA and a team of the agency and scientists of Geological Survey of India had conducted a mission onboard a research vessel ‘RV Samudra Ratnakar’ off Kerala coast to recover objects allegedly dropped in the deep sea from the dhow.