Togo frees Indian sailors

Togo frees Indian sailors

Charges against them cannot be proved : Khurshid

Togo frees Indian sailors

Indian merchant ship captain Sunil James, who had been jailed in the West African country of Togo since July, has been released along with another Indian sailor, the External Affairs Ministry said on Thursday.

Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said: “After a meeting between India’s High Commissioner in Accra and President Gnassingbe of Togo, Captain Sunil James and Andi Vijayan have been released.”

The two Indian sailors are expected to reach home on Friday. Both had been under arrest in Togo since July on the charge of aiding pirates who had attacked and looted his Marshall Islands-flagged “MT Ocean Centurion” on July 16.

James’s family has been seeking his release so that he could return home for the last rites of his 11-month-old son Vivaan who died on December 2 of septicaemia in a Mumbai hospital.

The sailor’s wife, Aditi, and others in the family want James to conduct the last rites of his son whose body has been lying in a hospital morgue since December 2.

It was reported that the infant underwent an operation for intestinal gangrene but doctors could not save him as the infection had spread to his bloodstream.

Voicing satisfaction over the release of James, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the charges that he had been accused of cannot be proved.

Expressing satisfaction over James’s release, his wife recalled the trauma the family went through since her husband’s incarceration in July.

Though both James and Vijayan are from Kerala, James’s family currently stays in Mumbai while Vijayan resides at Kochi.

Though the families of the sailors were requesting the Centre’s intervention since the day they were arrested, the United Progressive Alliance government was forced to act after it came under attack from Opposition parties heavily in Parliament on Wednesday, alleging that the government failed to protect the interests of Indian citizens staying abroad.

During a discussion in Parliament on treatment meted out by the US to Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, Opposition Leader in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj raised the issue of the arrested sailors and sought the immediate intervention from the Centre for their release.

With the intense pressure, the External Affairs Ministry deputed India’s High Commissioner in Accra to meet President Gnassingbe of Togo and get the sailors released.

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