Somali pirates jailed for French kidnapping

30th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

A French court on Wednesday jailed five Somali men for between four and eight years for taking a French couple hostage on their yacht in the Gulf of Aden, and acquitted a sixth.

In France's first prosecution of suspected Somali pirates, prosecutors had asked for the men, aged between 21 and 36, to be sent to jail for between six and 16 years on charges of hijacking, kidnapping and armed robbery.

The six allegedly seized the yacht and its crew, Jean-Yves Delanne and his wife Bernadette, both aged 60, off the coast of Somalia in 2008 and demanded a $2 million (1.3 million euro) ransom.

They were captured and flown to France after French special forces stormed the yacht, the Carre d'As IV, and rescued the couple. A seventh suspect was killed in the raid.

The defendants apologised to their victims Wednesday, as their trial wrapped up.

"I ask Mr. and Mrs. Delanne to forgive me for the harm I caused them," one of the Somalis, Sheikh Nur Jama Mohamud, said as the accused were given a final chance to speak.

"I wish them a good and long life," said another of the accused, Mohamed Hassan Yacub, adding he hoped his sentence will be "as lenient as possible".

The youngest of the accused, Yusuf, who was a minor at the time of the hijacking, said he hoped to eventually "rebuild my life in France".

After Wednesday's hearing, the two victims walked up to the accused and greeted them. "Good luck," Bernadette Delanne told them.

© 2011 AFP

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