Fourteen suspected pirates captured by a Royal Navy task force will face justice in the Seychelles. The suspects, arrested earlier this month by RFA Fort Victoria on a hijacked dhow, were handed over to local authorities when the supply ship visited the islands at the weekend.
RFA Fort Victoria – part of NATO’s counter piracy task force Operation Ocean Shield – has handed over 14 suspects to the islands’ authorities for prosecution.
The fourteen Somalis were captured on January 13 by Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel embarked on RFA Fort Victoria.
The suspected pirates, who were known to have been operating in the Indian Ocean, were intercepted on board a hijacked Yemeni fishing dhow.
They were found to have a variety of pirate paraphernalia and weapons on board, including rocket-propelled grenades and hand-grenades.
This is the culmination of four months of operations for the UK Counter-Piracy Task Group based on Fort Victoria and under the command of Captain Gerry Northwood.
“This has been a long four months of intensive counter-piracy operations during which time we have captured more than 30 pirates for prosecution and rescued 44 merchant mariners from the hands of the pirates.
“This success has been echoed by other NATO units engaged in counter-piracy operations and the handover of these 14 suspected pirates to the Seychelles authorities will contribute to ensuring the waters of the Indian Ocean become a safer place for all mariners.”
Foreign Secretary William Hague said:
“We are very grateful to the Seychelles for their agreement to prosecute these suspected pirates. Their commitment to the fight against piracy has helped avoid a situation where these individuals were not held to account for their actions.
“In a few weeks time the London Conference on Somalia will discuss how the international community can tackle the many problems faced by Somalia, including piracy.
“Today’s agreement on the transfer of alleged pirates demonstrates what can be achieved through international co-operation and commitment.”
Danish ship HDMS Absalon, another NATO ship conducting counter piracy operations in the Indian ocean was also in the Seychelles, handing over four suspected pirates to the Seychelles authorities.
Naval Today Staff , February 01, 2012; Image: royalnavy