By Jite Eriabie
Six suspected Somali pirates have been transferred to Seychelles after they were caught attacking a container ship and a fishing vessel in the Southern Somali Basin, officials said.
The suspects were apprehended by an Italian navy frigate, ITS Virginio Fasan, after they attacked a Seychelles-flagged 52-tonne container ship and a fishing vessel last week. The incident took place over a 24-hour period from Friday, Nov. 18 to Saturday, Nov. 19.
The acting superintendent of prisons, Raymond St Ange, said the pirates have been transferred to Seychelles based on an agreement with the European Naval Force Operation Atlanta (EU NAVFOR).
“The agreement allows us to initiate prosecution during any act of piracy. But prosecution will depend on evidence analysed by the office of the Attorney-General,” said St Ange.
The suspects arrived in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, on Thursday morning at the Port of Victoria.
St Ange said that a delegation from Somalia will also arrive in the country to discuss the issue of piracy.
There are 15 Somali detainees in the Seychelles’ main prison facility at Montagne Posee.
In an article in the online navaltoday website, the EU NAVFOR Somalia said, “the pirates launched a number of rocket-propelled grenades against the container ship during their attack.”
“All crew on both attacked ships are safe thanks to adherence to BMP4 (Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia), the presence of a security team on one of the vessels and good seamanship,” the article quoted the EU NAVFOR as saying.
The Seychelles’ archipelago — 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean — has been on the forefront of the fight against piracy since 2005, when the scourge began expanding, adversely impacting the nation’s tourism and fishing industries.
Despite the decline in pirate attacks off the vast coastline of Somalia from 236 in 2011 to two reportedly unsuccessful attacks in 2014, Seychelles has remained on the alert and St Ange had said last year that recent intelligence suggests that pirates threats still exist.
More recently, the Seychelles’ chair of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), Ambassador Barry Faure, said seafarers should bear in mind pirates will always be there as long as there is no stability on the grounds in Somalia.
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