India urges Togo to release detained Indian nationals

New Delhi, Oct 28 (IANS) India on Wednesday urged the western African nation of Togo to take steps for the early release of five Indian nationals who were detained in July 2013 in connection with an allegedly piracy case.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj raised the issue during a bilateral meeting with Togo’s Foreign Minister Robert Dussey who is here to attend the ongoing third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS).

“We raised the question of five Indian nationals who have been in detention in Togo since July 2013,” Sanjiv Kohli, joint secretary (West Africa) in the ministry of external affairs, said in a media briefing.

“So we requested for an early release of these Indian detainees. They were picked up in an incident allegedly involving piracy,” he said.

It relates to the case involving Indian ship captain Sunil James and another sailor, Vijayan, who were also detained by the Togo authorities when they went to make a complaint against piracy after their ship was looted in the sea. Both were released in December 2013.

“Six people were picked up from the ground on allegations of helping the crew to carry out the incident,” Kohli said.

“One of them fled from prison. Five are still in Togo’s detention.”

Kohli said Dussey assured Sushma Swaraj that his country’s authorities would look into the issue “which would involve either an early conclusion of the case or a possible presidential pardon”.

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