EU Naval Force transfers pirate suspects to the Seychelles


The European Union Naval Force warship FS Siroco on Wednesday transferred five suspected Somali pirates to the Seychelles, where they will be prosecuted for acts of Piracy in the Indian Ocean.

On Saturday 18 January, the French vessel FS Siroco, in cooperation with a Japanese maritime patrol aircraft and a helicopter from the vessel JS Samidare in support of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF/CTF 151) anti-piracy task group, 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. Private security on board repelled the attack, which was the first recorded incidence of Somali piracy in 2014.

The EU Naval Force said its personnel were able to gather a significant amount of evidence to prosecute the pirates. On that basis, the Republic of the Seychelles has accepted the transfer of the suspected pirates with the intention to prosecute them.

The EU, including through the EU Naval Force (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 Wednesday’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, the EU Navfor said.

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 Herve Blejean, 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 Genevieve 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 mobilise 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,” the EU Navfor stated. It has been widely acknowledged that to truly eliminate piracy, the threat must be tackled on land and pirates prevented from going out to sea in the first place.