Dutch seek Somali pirates' extradition from Denmark
The Netherlands has asked Denmark to extradite five pirates detained by the Danish navy in the Gulf of Aden while attacking a Dutch cargo vessel, the Dutch government said Thursday.THE HAGUE - Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin informed Danish counterpart Brian Nikkelsen at a European ministers' meeting in Prague that the Dutch were ready to begin judicial proceedings against the pirates, his spokesman told AFP.
Nikkelsen replied the Danish would begin extradition procedures as soon as possible, according to Ballin's spokesman Wim van der Weegen.
Denmark's defence minister, Soeren Gade, said the Dutch decision would send a strong message to pirates worldwide.
"It shows that there are countries that can and will prosecute the pirates, and that sends a crystal clear signal to the pirates that their actions have consequences," Gade said, cited by the Danish Ritzau news agency.
"I'm certain that this will have a preventive effect," he added.
In the Netherlands, the crime of piracy is punishable by up to nine years in prison, a spokesman for the public prosecutor's office told AFP.
The Somali pirates were apprehended 2 January on their speedboat as they prepared to attack the Samanyulo, a cargo ship carrying the flag of the Netherlands Antilles.
The five are still in custody on the Absalon, the Danish frigate which intercepted the pirates.
The Absalon is part of Combined Task Force 150 -- an international flotilla tracking pirates and traffickers off the Somali coast.
"Piracy is one of the most serious crimes in international law. It is now up to the prosecution to begin judicial proceedings," said Van der Weegen.
Somali pirates raked in an estimated 150 million dollars (114 million euros) in ransom money in 2008, attacking more than 130 ships and turning one of the planet's busiest maritime routes into its most dangerous waters.
The 330-metre (1,000-foot) Sirius Star, owned by the shipping arm of oil giant Saudi Aramco, was seized far off the east African coast on November 15, in what was the pirates' most daring attack and largest catch to date.