Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More Pirate Suspects Await Trial After Freighter Alert Led to Capture

Twenty One Accused Now Incarcerated Following Capture by Naval Forces
Shipping News Feature

SOMALIA – SEYCHELLES – The nine men accused of attempted piracy who were captured by the Dutch EU Naval Force frigate HNLMS De Ruyter on the 19th February have been transferred to the care of the authorities in the Seychelles for prosecution. The men were taken in a counter piracy operation which we reported on at the time after being spotted by a freighter in the region.

After seizing the men and the two skiffs they had used when trying to evade capture, the evidence, including film material taken from the helicopters deployed by HNLMS De Ruyter and EU Naval Force flagship ESPS Mendez Nunez, together with the Spanish EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA), was examined and analysed and has obviously been found to contain enough incriminating evidence for a prima facie case.

On the 25th February the Republic of the Seychelles agreed to take the nine suspected pirates for prosecution, and the De Ruyter, which was moored alongside the quay in Port Victoria, the Seychelles capital, transferred the men to the Seychelles’ authorities. The pattern of prosecution, like that of detection, seems to have changed to a more effective model of late. On the 25th January twelve men in similar circumstances found themselves transferred to the powers that be in Mauritius, again for prosecution in light of the evidence collected against them.

Shipping groups have welcomed this new approach after some criticism in past years that too many suspects were simply having their skiffs destroyed after their capture by naval forces whilst they were returned to the beaches of their homeland free to offend again. Speaking about the second successful transfer of suspected pirates by the EU Naval Force within the past 5 weeks, the Operation Commander of the European Union Naval Force Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant said:

“I welcome the decision of the Republic of the Seychelles to once again prosecute those suspected of attacking ships at sea. The Seychelles are a steadfast partner of the EU, determined and committed in the fight against piracy. Once more we have sent a clear message to pirates that the EU Naval Force will always seek, whenever possible, a legal finish”.

Photo: The nine suspects are landed for incarceration awaiting trial in the Seychelles.