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Return to the country for 23 pirates detained by the Seychelles. Details (update 2)

(BRUSSELS2) We know a little more about this pirate-hostage exchange. And I had (mostly) a little time to find out. Here is the story.

Transfer by two planes

The “pirates” released by the Seychelles authorities “for lack of evidence” arrive aboard a Dash 8 plane on Saturday at Nairobi airport. A plane quickly surrounded by the police. They then leave in two small planes, Dornier 228s, belonging to a Kenyan company. So, it seems, with at least tacit approval from the Kenyan authorities. Direction: Somalia, or rather Puntland. On Sunday, they landed 12 km south of the small coastal village of Gara'ad. The pirates are coming down. They are free. THE "waiting for their friends“, according to the Puntland authorities. In exchange, come the three Seychellois sailors, held hostage since the end of February 2009.

Briton held in custody in Puntland

But during a refueling operation at Galkayo airport, the Puntland police and immigration forces blocked the plane, with the crew, the negotiators and the 3 Seychellois sailors. An Australian (member of the crew) as well as a Briton, living in Kenya, were thus detained by the Puntland authorities who believe that the flight had not received authorization and that the people apprehended are under arrest. a criminal incrimination (we can note that the Puntland authorities did not stop the plane on the way out – with the pirates – but on the way back. A coincidence no doubt!). Puntland notes that France, the United States and Egypt negotiated with it before handing over certain pirates to them (for trial or release). Which was not the case, it seems, with this handover by the Seychelles

A human ransom

Even if the Seychelles minister in charge of piracy, Joel Morgan, denies it, the exchange seems proven. And it's not entirely abnormal... However, for several months the government of the Indian Ocean archipelago has been trying to obtain the release of the three Seychellois sailors from the yacht Serenity. In vain ! Despite the requests of families. So due to a lack of financial means like those in the northern hemisphere, which pay ransoms, they manage. The Seychelles authorities have indeed confirmed that they have repatriated to Somalia 23 men suspected of piracy, arrested on several occasions.

Officially for lack of evidence. “We did not have enough evidence to prosecute them before our courts” they officially stressed. Among these suspects are the 9 people arrested in April by the Spanish frigate Atalanta, the Numancia, during the operation to intercept the Italian cruise ship MSC Melody and “handed over” unofficially to the Seychelles authorities (released by the Spanish military then immediately taken back by the Seychelles coast guard).

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).