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India plans to prosecute 35 Somali pirates

India has said that it was bringing back to India and intended to prosecute the 35 Somali pirates captured by the Indian navy when it freed the Ruen (IMO 9754903), previously hi-jacked by pirates and then put into use as a mother ship. The Indian move steps up the pressure on pirates, who previously had tended to be left – disarmed – at sea.

The pirates are scheduled to arrive in India on Saturday March 23rd, at which point they will be handed over to the relevant law enforcement agencies, the official said, while noting that it was not yet clear precisely what charges would be brought against the 35.

The Malta-flagged Ruen had been hijacked 450nm by Somali pirates on December 14th 2023 when east of Socotra in the northern Arabian Sea. It was the first hijacking of a merchant ship by Somali pirates since 2017. At the peak of the piracy epidemic in the area, some 14 years ago, India’s navy used to prosecute and jail in India pirates involved in major attacks, but in recent months the Navy had taken to leaving the pirates at sea. The Ruen pirates will be the first India has prosecuted for some time.

India has a major strength in the Gulf of Aden, with at least a dozen there and the northern Arabian Sea since last December.

On March 14 Ruen was spotted off the Somali coast, having been converted into a mother-ship. It was intercepted on March 15th, according to the Indian Navy.

2016-built, Malta-flagged, 27,781 gt Ruen is owned by Ruen Maritime Ltd care of Navigation Maritime Bulgare JSC of Varna, Bulgaria. It is entered with West P&I (Eastern Claims team) on behalf of Ruen Maritime Ltd.