Somali pirates charged with hijacking

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A Paris court charges six Somali pirates with hijacking a French yacht and taking the crew hostage earlier in September.

26 September 2008

PARIS -- Six Somalis suspected of taking a French couple hostage aboard a yacht earlier in September were charged Thursday with hijacking and hostage-taking in a Paris court, judicial sources said.

They were also charged with armed robbery by judges Baudoin Thouvenot and Patrick Gachon, they said, adding that the six all admitted to their role in the event during questioning.

Their testimony was confirmed by the couple who were on the yacht which was on its way to France from Australia.

The suspected pirates were captured off the Somali coast and flown to France after French special forces stormed aboard the Carre d'As yacht on 15 September to rescue its crew, a French couple. A seventh suspect was killed.

The six were immediately held on their arrival Tuesday.

The charges carry life sentences and are the same as those brought against six more Somalis captured in April in an earlier raid by French forces to release the crew of a French-owned luxury cruise yacht.

A legal official said the gang demanded USD 2 million (EUR 1.36 million) for the safe return of the Carre d'As and its crew, Jean-Yves Delanne and his wife Bernadette, both aged 60, but that no talks began before the raid.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed to get tough with the gangs who prey on shipping in the waters off east Africa's most troubled state.

[AFP / Expatica]


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