Somali opposition accuses France of 'kidnapping' pirates
Main opposition group in Somali says France lacks the legal mandate to charge the six pirates who have held Le Ponant and its crew hostage.6 May 2008
NAIROBI - Somali's main opposition group said Monday that France lacks the legal mandate to charge six pirates with hostage-taking and accused the European power of "kidnapping" them.
"France and Somalia do not have an extradition treaty and French laws are not applicable to crimes committed outside France," said Hussein Mohamed Aidid, chairman of the Eritrea-based Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS).
"If the pirates were extradited illegally, like it happened in this case, then they were kidnapped by the French special forces. If the pirates acted against the law, the French should not have done the same.
"The pirates are criminals, but they should be punished by courts with the legal mandate to do so," Aidid, Somalia's former deputy prime minister, told AFP.
In April, French special forces arrested the pirates for kidnapping the French luxury yacht Le Ponant, freeing the boat and its 30-member crew on 11 April.
Despite the lack of any formal extradition accord, French prosecutors charged them in Paris with "abduction and detention of hostages with a view to obtaining a ransom," as well as "theft" and "receiving stolen goods".
The pirates are still in French detention.
Last week, France and the United States presented a text before the UN Security Council seeking to authorise states to send warships into Somalia's territorial waters to combat piracy.
The coastal waters off Somalia - which has not had an effective central government for more than 17 years and is plagued by insecurity - are considered among the most dangerous in the world.
More than 25 ships were seized in Somali coastal waters in 2007 despite US navy patrols, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
[AFP / Expatica]