10 Iranians, a Pakistani detained in Kerala prison to be set free

Kochi, March 18 (IANS) A special NIA court has set free 10 Iranians and a Pakistani national who were detained in July last year by the Coast Guard and Kerala Police off the coast of Alappuzha.

The 11 men were on board Iranian dhow “Barooki” when they were intercepted by the Coast Guard and state police following intelligence inputs.

The 12th man on board was the captain of the dhow, an Iranian national called Abdul Majid Balouch, who has been charged by the NIA court with a minor violation of marine laws.

Balouch will have to spend some more time in Kakkanad Jail near here, where the 12 men have been lodged. His case will be heard on March 28.

An official of the Kakkanad Jail on Friday said they were waiting for the court order.

“All of them are in high spirits since last evening (Thursday) after they heard that they have been set free. Now, as and when the court order comes to us, these 11 people will be free within 30 minutes,” said the jail official who did not wish to be identified.

After their dhow was seized, the men were first taken to a court near Vizhinjam near the state capital, which sent them to judicial custody.

The case was soon handed over to the National Investigation Authority (NIA), after some documents was recovered from the dhow that suggested a Pakistani connection.

On Thursday the NIA court exonerated all of them except the captain of the dhow, who will have to spend some more time in jail as he has been charged under sections relating to violation of marine laws.

“Since these people are foreign nationals, they will be handed over to their embassy officials who will make arrangements for their onward journey,” said the jail official.

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