New Delhi, Dec 19 IANS | 9 months ago

Indian merchant ship captain Sunil James, in jail in the west African country of Togo since July, has been released along with another Indian sailor, the external affairs ministry said Thursday.


External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted: "After meet between India's High Commissioner in Accra and President Gnassingbe of Togo, Captain Sunil James and Vijayan released. Now with High Commissioner K. Jeeva Sagar."

The two Indian sailors are to leave for India Thursday, he posted.

James' family has been seeking his release so that he could return home for the last rites of his 11-month-old son Vivaan who died Dec 2 of septicaemia in a Mumbai hospital.

James had stopped at Togo to report an attack on his ship MT Ocean Centurion by pirates when he was arrested July 31, along with two other crew members, for allegedly aiding the pirates.

The sailor's wife, Aditi and other family members had requested the Indian government to intervene and secure James' release.

"We are happy, it was a long battle, we have won the battle, congratulate the family," tweeted Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam whom the family had approached for help.

Where is Togo?

Togo is a former French colony that gained independence April 27, 1960, and is now a republic in West Africa under transition to democratic rule.

Togo is bordered by Benin on the east, Ghana on the west and Burkina Faso on the north. To its south lies the Gulf of Guinea that opens up to the Atlantic Ocean.

The first relatively free and fair legislative elections in the country were held in October 2007 after years of political unrest and condemnation by international organisations for human rights abuse.

The country is home to 37 tribes who form 99 percent of its 7.1 million population. People with indigenous beliefs form 51 percent of the population while the rest are Muslims and Christians.

(Posted on 19-12-2013)