Somali hijacking of French yacht reconstructed in Nice

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Six Somali men on trial for hijacking a luxury French yacht Le Ponant on Saturday watched a dramatic reconstruction of the incident in the southern French city of Nice.

The reenactment began as six men dressed in black and armed with machine guns approached the yacht in a dinghy.

The six Somalis could be seen aboard the yacht without handcuffs but with bright-coloured harnesses, which were attached to police, according to an AFP reporter.

At one point, a police officer was seen carrying a rocket launcher.

Pirates stormed the three-masted Ponant in the Gulf of Aden in April 2008, taking its 30 crew hostage and demanding a ransom.

But in a dramatic operation, French special forces later captured the six suspected pirates as they attempted to flee into the desert in a 4x4 vehicle with around 200,000 dollars (125,000 euros) of ransom in cash.

The six, aged 22 to 47, were taken to France to stand trial.

The judge handling the case approved a defence request to reenact the incident, citing conflicting testimonies from crew members.

© 2010 AFP

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