SHIPPING | Seychelles jails pirates

The Seychelles has added itself to the growing list of nations putting pirates behind bars as 11 Somalis were jailed on Monday.

The men were each given sentences of 10 years as the Indian Ocean nation attempted to display its resolve in effectively dealing with the swelling number of pirate suspects being landed on its doorstep.

Eight of the 11 were convicted of piracy with the other three convicted of aiding and abetting acts of piracy, the office of the country’s president said on Monday.

The convictions stem from a failed hijacking attempt by pirates on the Seychelles Coast Guard patrol boat Topaz in December last year.

The nation follows the US, the Netherlands, Kenya and Yemen in charging and convicting pirates for attacks or hijackings on ships off the Somali coast.

In early May a Yemeni court sentenced six pirates to death for their role in the hijacking of a tanker in the Gulf of Aden in April last year. Another half dozen members of the same gang will spend 10 years behind bars for their role in the hijacking of the Qana.

Also in May a young Somali man pleaded guilty to the brief hijacking of the 1,098-teu Maersk Alabama (built 1998) in April 2009. Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse faces up to 33 years in prison for his part in the hijacking which saw his three accomplices shot dead by US forces which freed the ship’s captain, Richard Phillips, after a days-long hostage ordeal in the Somali Basin.

Last month five Somali men were sentenced by a Dutch court to five years each for attempting to hijack a Netherlands Antilles-flagged ship last year. The men, aged between 25 and 45, had faced jail terms of up to 12 years after being found guilty of attacking the 3,254-dwt multi-purpose vessel Samanyolu (built 1980).

The Seychelles has been thrust into the piracy spotlight after a heavy international naval presence in the Gulf of Aden forced pirates to target ships in the southern Somali Basin. In spring last year the yacht Serenity was seized near the nation with two crew members. In April last year the oceanographic research vessel Indian Ocean Explorer was snatched just after its passengers had disembarked on a Seychellois island. It had seven crew members from the Seychelles onboard.

The Taiwanese fishing vessel Win Far 161 was also hijacked close to the Seychelles in April last year and held for 10 months. Merchant ships to have been seized near the region include the 1,760-dwt Pompei (built 1988), the 69,000-dwt bulker Ariana (built 1984), the 1,550-teu boxship Kota Wajar (built 1997), the 76,400-dwt bulker De Xin Hai (built 2008), the 36,700-dwt bulker Al Khaliq (built 1984), and the 52,100-dwt bulker Navios Apollon (built 2000).

Famously the British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler were seized along with their yacht Lynn Rival in October last year only a day after leaving the Seychelles bound for Tanzania. They are still being held.



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