Suspect Pirates Transferred to Seychelles for Possible Prosecution
On 29 January 2014, international collaboration in the fight against piracy resulted in the transfer of five men by the EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia Operation Atalanta flagship, FS Siroco, to the Republic of Seychelles, with the aim of prosecuting them for acts of piracy.
On Saturday 18 January, FS Siroco, in cooperation with Japanese assets in support of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF/CTF 151), freed the crew of an Indian Dhow that was believed to have been used by the five suspected pirates as a mother-ship in the attack on an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden a day earlier.
The EU Naval Force crew was able to gather a significant amount of evidence, as it is the EU’s ambition to support a legal finish where possible. On that basis, the Republic of the Seychelles has accepted the transfer of the suspected pirates with the intention to prosecute them.
The skiff of the suspected pirates being inspected by Seychelles police
The EU, including through EU NAVFOR, has developed a successful partnership with the Republic of Seychelles in the fight against piracy. The transfer agreement signed in December 2009 has up to date allowed for 47 (including today’s five) suspected pirates to be transferred. With 33 pirates now prosecuted, the Seychelles play a leading role in achieving a legal finish against pirates in the region.
Maciej Popowski, Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service, and current Chairman of the international Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), said: “We thank the Government of Seychelles for their continued collaboration which shows the quality of our relations and their very active role in fighting piracy in the Indian Ocean.”
The EU NAVFOR Force Commander, Rear Admiral Hervé Bléjean, said: “I wish to express my deepest consideration to H.E. Mr. James Alix Michel, president of the Republic of Seychelles, for allowing us to proceed with the transfer of the suspected pirates. More broadly I would also like to extend my thanks to the Seychelles’ Government and judiciary authorities for their involvement in the process throughout. Finally, I would like to express my highest gratitude towards H.E. Ambassador Geneviève Iancu, French Ambassador and current representative of the EU presidency in the Seychelles, for her decisive action to achieve this successful legal finish. Operation Atalanta’s dedication to act decisively against piracy would not be fully achieved without the ability to prosecute those involved in piracy. I also urge the maritime industry, as an actor of its own security at sea, to continue applying best management practices at the appropriate level.”
The EU chairs in 2014 the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS). The EU and the entire CGPCS are keen to mobilize international support to eradicate Somali piracy once and for all, not only by addressing the symptoms at sea but also by addressing the root causes of piracy ashore.
EU Naval Force deters, prevents and represses acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia. EU Naval Force ships protect World Food Program vessels delivering aid to Somalia and AMISOM shipping. EU Naval Force ships also contribute to the monitoring of fishing activity off the Somali Coast.