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Latest piracy news (April 10, 2011)

(BRUSSELS2) This week was marked by a resumption of prosecutions of pirates. Breaking with the habit adopted in recent months of releasing pirates, international or national forces (United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands) who apprehend suspects try, as much as possible, to have them tried on the spot or repatriate them to their country for be judged there. A necessity ! According to an estimate by a European soldier, “there are several cases of repeat offenses among pirates. Clearly, suspects had already been apprehended and then released. Thanks to the identification system, we can estimate this figure at around 10% of pirates".

Sunday (April 10). The Iranian navy foils an attack on an Iranian supertanker.

The Voyager 1, an Iranian supertanker, escaped a pirate attack by two pirate skiffs off the southwest coast of Pakistan, announces the Fars agency, quoting a press release from the Iranian navy. She intervened and put the pirates to flight. We do not know if there were any casualties during the exchanges of fire. Another Iranian tanker, the Najm, escaped a similar attack earlier this week (April 4) in the Gulf of Aden.

Sunday (April 10). The Indonesian army engaged against pirates?

The Indonesian army could be engaged to free hostages from pirates, reports the national press. “We are considering this possibility,” explained the Navy spokesperson.

Saturday (April 9). Anti-piracy mission canceled for LV Le Hénaff

The LV notice The Hénaff which was stopping at Souda before crossing the Suez Canal to join the anti-piracy mission received a new travel order. No Suez or pirates, head to the seas of Libya.

Friday (April 8). German ship hijacked just 35 miles off the coast of Oman.

MV SUSAN KA German cargo ship, the Mv Susan K, flying the flag of Antigua & Barbuda, was captured by around ten pirates 200 miles northeast of Salalah (Oman) or only 35 miles from the Omani coast, while en route to Port Sudan from Mumbai (India). The crew includes 4 Ukrainians and 6 Filipinos. The vessel was registered at MSCHOA

Thursday (April 7). Greek oil tanker freed for ransom

The Greek supertanker Irene SL – with a capacity of 319.000 tonnes – captured on February 9, with its crew of 25 people (17 Filipinos, 7 Greeks, 1 Georgian), is free. A ransom of $13,5 million was paid, hackers told Reuters.

Thursday (April 7). No German marines aboard merchant ships

The German navy will not be able to accompany or put soldiers on board its merchant ships, as requested by the maritime industry. “It is not feasible from a logistical, legal and administrative point of view…” explained Thomas Kossendey, Parliamentary State Secretary for Defense. “I don't see how we could have the number of units needed. Many of Atalanta's partners are rather stingy in terms of units made available... And I see no inclination to increase it. "

Thursday (April 7). 25 years in prison in the USA for a pirate.

Jama Idle Ibrahim, a 39-year-old Somali, was again sentenced in Washington by a federal court to 25 years in prison for attacking, in November 2008, a Danish commercial ship, the MV CEC Future, carrying American goods and took his crew hostage. This is his second conviction in the United States. He had already been sentenced to 30 years in prison in Virginia for participating in the attack on the military ship USS Ashland, in the Gulf of Aden, in April 2010.

Thursday (April 7). An Iranian dhow used as a mother ship taken over by the Spanish Navy

The Iranian dhow berthed by a visit boat from the Canarias (credit: Spanish Navy)

The Spanish frigate “Canarias” – which is participating in the European operation Atalanta – frees an Iranian fishing boat, held for 5 months by Somali pirates. The dhow had been spotted approximately 150 miles from the pirate base of Garacad (Somalia). The visit on board allowed seven suspects to be apprehended and various equipment usually used by pirates to be seized (including 5 RPG grenade launchers and a skiff). They are waiting for instructions.

Wednesday 6 April). 18 suspects arrested by Finns.

The Finnish frigate FNS pohjanmaa – part of Operation EUNavfor Atalanta – disarmed a pirate group approximately 250 miles south of Salalah (Oman). This mother ship and two skiffs were suspected of having attempted to capture a merchant ship the day before. To stop the suspects, the Finns fired warning shots. 18 suspects were apprehended as well as a “large quantity of gasoline“. This is the first forceful action by the Finnish frigate since its engagement. The mothership was sunk. After examining the possibilities for appeal, the Finnish public prosecutor's office concluded, however, on April 8 that no action could be taken under Finnish law. The suspects are, for the moment, kept on board. “Their health is good“, explained the captain of the ship, Mika Raunu.

Tuesday, April 5). 10 pirates will be tried in the Emirates.

The ten pirates caught red-handed during the MV attack Arrilah I by the commando forces of the Emirates (with the help of the American naval group of the USS Enterprise) were landed on shore at Mina Zayed, taken care of by the police, to be delivered to the justice of the Emirates. They are expected to be tried in federal criminal court. This will be the first trial of this kind before the courts of the Emirates. A sailor from the ship was injured during the assault.

Tuesday, April 5). Armed guards on Indian ships.

The Indian government is studying the possibility of shipping companies recruiting armed guards on board their ships, according to a Navy spokesperson. The Ministers of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Trade are working on the issue to establish a legislative framework (either a law or an immediately enforceable “decree”) at the request of the industry. It could be – as the Indian press mentions – rather former members of the Navy. Several problems remain to be resolved such as the training, supervision of these guards and their status in the port of destination.

Monday april 4th). Two pirate skiffs disarmed and freed.

The Turkish frigate TCG Giresun (engaged in the NATO operation Ocean Shield) apprehended two suspected skiffs (pirates) approximately 70 miles from the Somali coast. The suspect skiffs had been spotted in the International Transit Corridor (IRTC) of the Gulf of Aden by a Japanese patrol plane. Aerial photographs had made it possible to identify weapons and various materials which left little doubt about the intentions of its occupants. The Turkish frigate which was nearby was tasked with apprehending the “guys”. Assisted by the on-board helicopter, the fast boats stopped the two skiffs, discovering ammunition for assault rifles, grenade launchers and ladders. The suspects, once disarmed, were… released.

Monday april 4th). A destroyed whaler

The Spanish ship “Infanta Elena”, which is participating in the European operation Eunavfor Atalanta, intercepts, 89 nautical miles south of Mombasa (Kenya), a whaling-type vessel with two suspected pirates. On board were three cell phones, a radio, AK-47 cartridges, nine barrels of fuel and four of water, and some hooks and boarding equipment. But nothing sufficient to allow a prosecution. The whaler is destroyed, the suspects freed and brought ashore. NB: the other suspects had already fled aboard two skiffs.

Sunday (April 3). Strong exchange between pirates and Dutch marines, 2 pirates killed.

The RHIBs board the dhow, the suspects held at bay by the helicopter (credit: Dutch navy)

The Dutch frigate HMS Trump – part of NATO's anti-piracy operation – freed an Iranian fishing vessel that was being used by the pirates as a mother ship. The Dutch had sent two visiting boats to examine this boat, reported as suspicious. The exchange was muscular. “The suspects fired at our ships” specifies the navy. 2 pirates were killed. 10 pirates were arrested while trying to escape on a skiff and 6 others arrested on the boat. “After examination, the bodies were thrown into the water. Due to the temperature it was not possible to keep them on board” said a Defense spokesperson. The 16 fishermen, held hostage on board for 4 months, were released. On Wednesday (April 6), the 16 surviving pirates were charged by a Dutch judge and taken into custody on board. They are suspected of attempted murder. “The pirates do not appear to have acted on impulse but with the intent to kill“, we estimate from the Dutch public prosecutor’s office. They could therefore be repatriated and tried by a Dutch court. This would be the first European case where pirates are tried not for acts of piracy but also for attempted murder of soldiers. NB: this possibility of referral to European courts, apart from any special jurisdiction in matters of piracy, could be used more.

Friday (April 1). The debate over the presence of armed guards on board continues in the Netherlands.

The report of the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) makes a clear distinction between private and public responsibilities. It is shipowners and captains who are primarily responsible for the safety of their ships. But the use of private armed guards on board would threaten the state's monopoly on the use of force. The Dutch government recommends two avenues of reflection: strengthening self-protection measures on board ships. “. And for a “small number of vulnerable vessels”, to “the government, in certain circumstances, to ensure the protection of maritime transport”. A working group chaired by Professor de Wijkerslooth is working on the issue.

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).

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