Denmark to pay damages to suspected Somali pirates

Denmark has compensated nine Somalis suspected of trying to hijack a Danish ship in 2013 because they were detained too long before being brought before a judge, the public prosecutor’s office said on Monday.

Each defendant received 19,600 Danish crowns ($3,247) for the 13 days they were detained, a spokesman from the prosecutor in Copenhagen said. Official Somali figures show 43 percent of the population lives on less than one dollar a day.

The nine Somalis were charged with piracy after an attempt to hijack the tanker vessel from Torm Kansas, which had been chartered by shipping company Torm, in the western Indian Ocean on Nov 10, 2013.

Danish Navy support ship Esben Snarre seized the nine suspected pirates on the high seas after the unsuccessful hijacking and held them for 13 days before they were brought before a judge via a video link. He found them not guilty.

According to Danish law, a citizen cannot be held in custody for more than 24 hours without being brought before a judge. The compensation was unrelated to the suspects’ innocence.

Attacks in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean have dropped from a peak of 237 in 2011 to just 10 in the first nine months of this year, the lowest since the piracy crisis began in 2008, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Piracy has since picked up along the west coast of Africa and is expected to increase in the Gulf of Guinea ahead of Nigeria’s election next February, when ransom money is expected to be funnelled into campaign financing. 

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