Somali Pirates Freed As Cargo Ship Crew Refused To Testify
European Union military naval mission has released six Somali pirate suspects it captured after their attempt to hijack a cargo ship off Somalia failed. Cmdr. John Harbour, spokesman of European Union Naval Force EU NAVFOR, said it had no other option but to free the men because the crew of the cargo vessel refused to give evidence in the case.
Panamanian-flagged MV Almezaan was sailing toward Somali capital Mogadishu Tuesday when the pirates in three small vessels attacked it off the East African coast.
Guards aboard the cargo ship returned fire, forcing the pirates to flee the scene.
A Spanish frigate, responding to a distress call from the ship, intercepted the fleeing vessels and seized six pirates. It found one pirate dead on board.
Spanish Defense Minister Carme Chacon said Wednesday Spain planned to hand over the pirates to Kenya or the Seychelles for trial.
"It was a clear-cut case, we intercepted the pirates, we destroyed their mother-ship and we went on board the cargo ship to get statements" in vain, Cmdr. Harbour added.
EU NAVFOR's anti-piracy Operation ATLANTA has deployed several warships and reconnaissance aircraft for patrolling the dangerous vast region. It also escorts World Food Program food shipments to Somalia.
Several NATO and EU-member countries have contributed to the naval patrols.
Piracy is on the rise in the vital sea route in the Arabian Sea between Yemen and Somalia, which connects the Gulf and Asia to Europe and beyond via the Suez Canal. It is critical to Gulf oil shipments.