The External Affairs Ministry officials have sought immediate release of imprisoned Indian sailor Captain Sunil James on compassionate grounds from the Togo prison, where he has been languishing since July this year.

Captain Sunil recently lost his 11-month old son. His family has been awaiting his arrival for the performance of last rites.

“We have already given consular access to Captain Sunil James. On Friday, our officials met senior Togolese government officials including the Public Prosecutor and the officials of the Ministry of Justice. We have requested them that the case should be dealt with compassionately. We have also sought his early release so that he can come back home to perform the last rites of his son,” Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson of the Ministry told The Hindu on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the distraught family has said it will wait for the sailor to return to perform the last rites of the toddler. “We have to wait for Sunil. He hasn’t even seen the baby grow-up. How will he get a sense of closure if we perform the last rites in his absence? He will never be able to get over it till he puts his son to rest,” Rakesh Madappa, Captain Sunil’s brother-in-law, told The Hindu.

The Togolese court is to consider the sailor’s sixth application for release on Monday. “The judge does not appreciate our intrusion. The judge does not work under pressure. The judge will take his time while a family in India suffers continually and a child awaits his burial. So much for compassion. So much for human rights,” Mr. Madappa said in an email to the paper.

Congress MP to help family

The family claimed on Saturday that Congress Member MP Sanjay Nirupam has come to their aid. “He is helping us to get in touch with the Prime Minister’s Office. We are in the process of writing to the PM to grant us an audience,” Mr. Madappa said.

The family said that the Togolese police or court have not given them a single document related to the case of complicity of theft slapped on the sailor. “The lawyer we have appointed told us that even he will be unable to get the documents out of the court before the case is over. There is not a single document available with us. The shipping company has rubbished the claim of theft. We do not know the basis of the charges slapped on him and his two colleagues. This is nothing short of absurdity,” he said.

The Ministry officials said they have requested the Togolese officials to expedite the hearing of the case.

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