French prosecutors to appeal Somali pirates sentences

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French prosecutors said on Monday they would appeal a ruling sentencing five Somali men to between four and eight years in prison for taking a French couple hostage on their yacht as too lenient.

The sentences "do not fit the extreme seriousness" of the crime and "are very far below the sentences given for similar crimes in other countries," prosecutors said in a statement.

A Paris court issued the sentences last month and acquitted a sixth suspect after prosecutors had asked the men, aged between 21 and 36, to be sent to prison for between six and 16 years on charges of hijacking, kidnapping and armed robbery.

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

The ransom was never paid and the men 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.

© 2011 AFP

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