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Estonia asks India to release detained pirate-hunters

The outgoing Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus met with the India’s Ambassador to Estonia Ashok Kumar Sharma in Tallinn last week, to once again convey Estonia’s plea to allow the 14 Estonian anti-piracy crew, detained in India for almost two years, to return home.

Pentus-Rosimannus said that the situation has become inhumane for the men and their families, and both the ship guards and their relatives are suffering. On July 6, the foreign minister also sent a letter to her Indian counterpart, in which she appealed for India to allow the ship guards return home to Estonia for the duration of the court proceedings on humanitarian grounds.

“India could allow the men home to Estonia for the remainder of the court proceedings, where they have families and their living conditions would be improved. This is what we asked from India,” Pentus-Rosimannus said.

According to Pentus Rosimannus, Estonia-India relations have been good in the past, but it is in the interest of both countries that the case, which has been overshadowing relations for nearly two years now, be resolved. She also said that until the matter has been resolved, the Estonian pirate-hunters case will be the main focus of the Estonian Embassy in New Delhi.

The Estonians, along with Ukrainians and British nationals, were arrested in October 2013 for alleged arms violations in Indian territorial waters. The men were acquitted of all charges in summer 2014, but nevertheless left unable to return home, as police appealed the decision. The court that was proceeding their case, closed for the summer without reaching a decision, leaving the men faced with further delays in returning home.

Estonian MEPs have also lobbied European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, to help speed along the return of the men from India.

Editor: S. Tambur

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