Friday, July 15, 2011

Somali Pirates Demand Compensation for Fellows Deaths

Also Want Captives Released
Shipping News Feature

SOUTH KOREA / SOMALIA – Following on from our report earlier today concerning the rise in attacks this year by Somali pirates comes the news that a group holding four South Korean sailors aboard the hijacked tanker MV Gemini are demanding compensation from the South Korean government for the deaths of eight pirates who were killed by South Korean soldiers of the elite Cheonghae Unit when they liberated the MV Samho Jewelry earlier this year. The gang has also demanded the release of other pirates currently being held in South Korean jails.

Speaking to the Associated Press Hassan Abdi, one of the pirates holding 25 crew aboard the MV Gemini, said that they wanted a change in approach from the South Korean government towards the pirates, describing current policy as “foolish treatment”, as well as an unspecified amount of compensation and release of prisoners.

“After that we may reconsider holding their nationals in our hands,” Abdi said.

The South Korean government has not yet issued a response to the demands.

The demand comes in the light of similar actions taken earlier this year. In April, pirates released the MV Asphalt Venture but kept seven Indian crew members, saying they were angry due to the Indian navy’s killing of several colleagues and that they wanted to exchange the hostages for prisoners held in India.

The actions raises questions now on the efficacy of paying ransoms to pirates when the groups now seem intent on pressing other issues which are beyond the concerns the ship owner and shipping lines.

The new “policy” may also increase the interest of shipping companies in further exploring the possibility of carrying armed personnel aboard to protect their vessels and crews. According to a report in the South China Morning Post yesterday, Chinese shipping giant Cosco is planning to spend $12 million on armed guards and other measures to protect its ships.

"We don't want to injure people... but we have to protect ourselves," Cosco Shipping's chief operating officer Guo Jin is reported to have said, describing the use of armed guards as a "difficult issue".

(pic: Cheonghae Unit storming the MV Samho Jewelry)