Indian ship captain freed from Togo jail (Third Lead)

New Delhi, Dec 19: 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 and would reach India Friday, the external affairs ministry said Thursday.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said James and Vijayan are on their way back to India.

“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 spokesperson tweeted.

The two Indian sailors left for India Thursday.

James’s 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.

His wife Aditi and other family members had requested the Indian government to intervene and secure James’s release.

Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam, who helped the family meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to urge the government’s intervention said he was happy at news of James being freed.

“We are happy, it was a long battle, we have won the battle,” he said.

James’s family also thanked the prime minister for the release.