maritime piracy

MV Leopard crew liberated. A large ransom paid

The Mv Leopard (credit: Shipcraft)

(BRUSSELS2) The six members of the MV Leopard — 2 Danes and 4 Filipinos — detained by Somali pirates for more than two years are now safe and sound » has just announced the Danish Minister of Defense, Nick Hækkerup. Men of the Danish Navy Special Forces (Frømandskorpset) with the frigate's helicopter Iver Eightfeldt recovered the hostages on the Somali coast in circumstances which have not been detailed by Danish authorities. “Søren Lyngbjørn and Eddy Lopez and their 4 Filipino colleagues” were “ put to safety “, aboard the frigate and have” received medical treatment “says the Danish Ministry of Defense.

“Cynical criminals”

Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal appealed to the press to let the sailors released in " Peace "a few times and allow them" to focus on returning to a life of freedom and being with their families after the conclusion of a long period in captivity ". He had previously condemned in the strongest terms » the hostage takers. “They are cynical and unscrupulous criminals who deserve to be captured and brought to justice. And although international anti-piracy efforts have limited the ability of Somali pirates to take new hostages, many sailors remain in captivity. »

The hostages without the ship

The six sailors were captured in January 2011, off the coast of Oman while the MV Leopard believing he had left the dangerous zone, had just separated from his security team (read on Somalia Report: Mystery of Missing MV Leopard Crew Member). The ship had been damaged during the attack and was no longer usable. The pirates – who were operating far from their base using a mother ship that they had also captured – then decided to abandon the ship adrift and keep only the hostages. Rather original technique in the ways usually followed by pirates. Read : In the Gulf, pirates are having a blast

A large ransom paid

« Since the kidnapping, we have fought every day, helped by our advisors, to find a solution » explained Claus Bech, director of Shipcraft, the owner of the MV Leopard, wishing to thank “ the external experts and the Danish authorities for their help and assistance during this difficult period ". This hostage affair dragged on for more than two years. (But) We are a very small company. And the pirates had unrealistic expectations to obtain a ransom,” he said. Even if he did not want to specify the amount of the sum paid “ out of concern for any future hostage situations ", the director however agreed that a ransom " higher than in previous hostage situations where Danes were involved” had been paid.

NB: the ransoms paid for the ships vary from $1,5 million to $13 million (according to our database). For the release of the Danish ship M/V CEC Future, a ransom of $1,7 million was paid. But it was early 2009. For the liberation of the German ship MV Beluga Appointment, a $5 million ransom was paid in April 2011.

Comment: if we can only rejoice at the happy outcome of this hostage-taking, especially after such a long period, we can however only be worried about the payment of a significant sum of money which will give pirates the breath of fresh air that they have lacked until now to carry out operations. Let us bet (hope) however that discreet actions are implemented to either get their hands on some of the perpetrators, or on part of the money, in order to neutralize this negative effect

Read also: 54 hostages and 2 ships in the hands of the pirates

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).