Five Somali piracy suspects moved to Netherlands for trial

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Five Somalis suspected of having abducted two South Africans from their yacht off the Seychelles were transferred to the Netherlands Sunday for trial, the Dutch defence ministry announced.

"The Somalis are suspected of having hijacked the South Africa yacht Choizil and abducted two South African citizens November 7," said a ministry statement.

Late last month, the Dutch navy arrested 20 people off the coast of Somalia who were suspected of the abductions in two separate operations: 15 of them were released due to lack of evidence.

Defence ministry spokesman Marloes Visser told AFP the suspects were being flown into the country on a military airplane and were due in at Eindhoven, in the south of the country.

Court spokesman Wim de Bruin told AFP the suspects would be tried for piracy in the western city of Rotterdam. They faced up to 12 years in prison if convicted of having led the pirates, nine if they were among the pirate crew.

Pirates attacked the South African yacht off the Seychelles on October 26, taking three hostages. The skipper, Peter Eldridge, escaped earlier this month, but two South African nationals remain in the hands of pirates.

A court in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam jailed five Somali pirates in June over an attack on a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden, the first conviction of its kind in Europe.

© 2010 AFP

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