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20 Iranian hostages freed by the Sachsen. Pirates released...

(Credit: Bundesweh r- Gunnar Wolff)

(BRUSSELS2) German sailors on Saturday (October 20) freed 20 Iranian sailors held hostage by Somali pirates, we learned from EUnavfor Atalanta HQ. The Iranian fishing boat had been captured by Somali pirates 6 days earlier.

Upon receiving the distress call from the Iranian dhow the day before (October 19), the German frigate FGS Sachsen (F-219) went to the site. She located the dhow several nautical miles northeast of the Somali coast and boarded it. On board, visiting forces found several AK47s, a rocket launcher and 7 suspicious people. The equipment was confiscated.

The suspects were questioned. But “for legal reasons”, they could not be kept in detention and had to be released. The 20 Iranian sailors were able to directly receive medical assistance from the ship's doctor. And left.

Commentary: The release of the suspects

There is some doubt about the official reason. Besides the legal reasons, there is above all that we are on the High Seas and that therefore applies, in the first place, the law of the “attacked” flag, that of Iran. It seems difficult given the state of relations between Western countries (Germany is part of the 5+1 group on sanctions against the Iranian regime) and the Islamic Republic to initiate a procedure for the extradition of the pirates. As for welcoming the suspects in Germany, to try them, which would be legally possible, by virtue of universal international jurisdiction, it would be even more delicate. The Somali solution is also ruled out, due to lack of an agreement to transfer prisoners. The only solution is therefore almost immediate release. This was also the case last week with the suspects arrested by San Giusto (read: New net for Atalanta!).

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).