Seychelles authorities have charged six Somali nationals with piracy-related crimes for allegedly attacking a British containership and a fishing vessel in the Indian Ocean last month.
The six suspected pirates were apprehended by the crew of an Italian warship aboard their whaler following separate attacks on the UK-flagged MV Ever Dynamic and FV Galerna III, which took place over a 24-hour period on 17-18 November in the Southern Somali Basin in the Indian Ocean.
According to evidence, the six suspects crewed a motor whaler that was supposedly used as a mothership to launch the attacks using a skiff. During the attack on the containership, the suspects allegedly fired several rocket-propelled grenades towards the vessel, but the attack was ultimately deterred by the ship’s armed security team and other counter-piracy measures taken by the crew.
The suspected pirates were apprehended by the Italian Marines from ITS Virginio Fasan, the flagship of the E.U. Naval Force’s counter-piracy mission in Somalia, after their vessels were spotted by a Spanish military helicopter.
The six suspects will now face legal prosecution before a Seychelles court and, if convicted, could face up to 30 years in jail.
Major General Charlie Stickland, Operation Commander of EU NAVFOR said, “I am delighted that the evidence gathered by our flagship, ITS Fasan was sufficient for the Seychellois authorities to bring this case to trial. Once again, I would like to personally congratulate the efforts of the Seychelles authorities and the men and women working for on Operation Atalanta to help keep the seas safe 24 hours a day”.
The case follows last year’s successful conviction in France of six Somali nationals found guilty of attacking yacht and murdering its French skipper in an incident that took place in September 2011. The suspects in that case were sentenced to between 6 and 15 years.