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Court orders probe to know age of 7 out of 35 pirates, held off Somalia coast, claiming to be minors

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NewsDrum Desk
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Mumbai, Apr 2 (PTI) A special court here on Tuesday directed the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) to initiate an inquiry to ascertain the age of seven out of the 35 pirates, who were apprehended last month in an operation off the coast of Somalia, as they claim to be minors.

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All 35 pirates were produced before special judge B D Shelke at the end of their initial police remand on Tuesday.

During the hearing, seven accused, through their lawyers, submitted documents such as birth certificate, school leaving certificate, etc to claim that they are minors.

However, special public prosecutor Iqbal Solkar, appearing for the police, raised an objection about the veracity of the documents, and said it should be verified.

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The ossification tests done at a state-run hospital revealed that these seven accused are above 20 years of age, he added.

Taking note of the contradictory views, the court asked the JJB to launch an inquiry to ascertain their age.

The seven accused, for now, have been sent to a children's home at Dongri in South Mumbai.

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Among the other remaining accused, one has been remanded in police custody till April 8, while the rest have been sent to a 14-day judicial custody.

In an operation lasting over 40 hours that commenced in the early hours of March 15, INS Kolkata intercepted Pirate Ship ex-MV Ruen in the Arabian Sea based on inputs received by Indian Navy's Information Fusion Centre - Indian Ocean Region from UKMTO (United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations).

INS Kolkata, with the 35 apprehended pirates, returned to Mumbai on March 23.

The pirates were handed over to the police for further legal action in accordance with Indian laws.

The exercise was undertaken as part of the ongoing Operation Sankalp, wherein Indian Navy ships are deployed in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden for the safety of seafarers and mercantile trade passing through the region. PTI AVI NP

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