‘James likely to be released soon’

The judge in Togo hearing the case of Sunil James, a merchant navy captain from Mumbai, is examining a final prosecution witness before deciding the fate of James and his two colleagues, his family said Wednesday. They have been detained in the west African country since July on charges of abetting pirates.

The lawyer representing James informed his family that the judge had concluded his final examination of three Indians and was likely to release them following the examination of the final witness. He, however, could not set a date for the release, said James' brother-in-law Rakesh Madappa.

James' family filed a release petition in the court last week, after the death of his 11-month-old son Vivaan due to septicemia. They also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi to press for pressure on the Togo government. Singh has charged PMO Joint Secretary Jawed Ashraf to oversee the government's efforts in Togo.

"Mr Ashraf has been in touch with us. He said the top officials of the Indian High Commission in Ghana are in Togo," said Rakesh.

James had set sail in April, skippering the MT Ocean Centurion, owned by UK-based shipping firm Union Maritime. He docked in Togo on July 31 to report a pirate attack on his vessel just days earlier. The Togo Navy, however, took three men in custody, believing them to have aided the pirates, James' family said.


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