India court drops charges against Iranian fishermen

A court in India’s southern Kochi city has cleared 11 crew members of an Iranian fishing boat, detained last July, of charges of drug trafficking and links to militant organizations.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday said all charges leveled against 11 crew members are dropped after it failed to find links between Iranians and any militant organization or international drug mafia.

The NIA ordered for all 11 crew members to be deported back to Iran.

The Iranian boat, known as Barooki, was intercepted by India’s Coast Guard and state police on July 5, 2015 after it was found in Indian waters. The Iranian crew members have been questioned for possible arms smuggling and breach of India’s national security after phones, a tablet and Pakistani identity cards were found on board.

The lawyer of Iranian fishing boat crew, Thomas Abraham, said, “Eleven of the accused were deleted from the array of accused and now… Mr. Captain of the ship, Mr. Abdol Majid Balouch is charge sheeted for an offence under Maritime Zones Act. And he will be, and he has to face trial, others will be deported (to) Iran.”

The captain of the vessel was charged with fishing in a foreign boat in Indian territorial waters and using prohibited fishing equipment in India. He is scheduled to appear in court on March 28.

By Press TV