FIFTEEN SOMALI nationals, who were arrested during anti-piracy operations in January 2011, have been released, after they completed seven year jail sentence, on January 2.

They were convicted by a sessions court on August 2, 2017, under various charges. The court had directed that they be deported once they complete the remainder of their prison term in an Indian jail.

Since their legal status is that of illegal immigrants now, their custody was handed over to Yellow Gate police station, where the FIR against them was registered.

Currently, they are lodged in a room on the premises of Yellow Gate police station in south Mumbai, in “safe custody”.

Lodged in Taloja central jail in Navi Mumbai for over six years, the men were shifted to a prison in Kolhapur after they were convicted. An officer from Yellow Gate police station said a room meant for the staff members was being used to accommodate them.

A second group of 27 men, who were convicted on August 11, 2017, will be released on Friday. Once the second group is released, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Somalia, is likely to fly them back together, an official said.

“We made arrangements for the stay of the 15 men released last week on the Yellow Gate police station premises since there is no detention centre where they could be lodged till they are deported.

It will be difficult to accommodate a large number. We have been informed by the Somali Embassy that they are making arrangements for their return as soon as possible once the second group is released,” said a senior police official.

A total of 120 Somali men were arrested in four separate anti-piracy operations by the Indian Navy and the Indian Coastguard from January to March 2011. Three of the prisoners died of illnesses while the trial was underway.

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