South Korean police said on Monday they have enough evidence to charge five captured Somalis with attempted murder and ship hijacking, in the country’s first legal attempt to punish foreign pirates.
The maritime police said one of the pirates shot captain Seok Hae-Kyun repeatedly when South Korean Navy commandos stormed the hijacked ship, and the victim was also hit by one Navy bullet.
The five were captured during the dramatic raid in the Arabian Sea on January 21 and flown to South Korea’s port city of Busan last week to face a police investigation and possible trial.
The case will now be handed over to state prosecutors, who are responsible for bringing formal charges. Attempted murder can be punishable by life imprisonment.
Seok, 58, remains in hospital in South Korea in critical condition after surgery. His ship, the 11,500-ton Samho Jewelry, was seized on January 15.
Kim Chung-Kyu, chief of the maritime police’s Busan office, said they have enough evidence to prove their charges, including testimony from the Somalis and from crew members who were held hostage on the ship.
The testimony from the South Koreans identified one of the five as having shot the captain in an attempt to kill him when commandos launched their raid, Kim said without naming the suspect.
The pirates also used the hostages as human shields against the raiders and fired shots at the commandos, he said, announcing results of the investigation.
“I believe there will be no problem applying charges of maritime robbery, attempted murder, kidnapping… and obstruction of justice,” Kim said.
Source: Bureau Repot, February 7, 2011;