Five weeks to the day after the first group of suspected pirates apprehended by EU NAVFOR this year was handed over for prosecution the East African task force repeated the exercise.
The latest handover brings to 21 the number of suspected pirates handed over for prosecution this year.
The first transfer of 12 suspects on January 25 was to Mauritian authorities and this week’s transfer of nine suspects was to Seychellois authorities.
On Monday February 25 Dutch EU Naval Force frigate HNLMS De Ruyter transferred nine suspected pirates to the Seychelles authorities for prosecution. The transfer took place after De Ruyter, conducting counter piracy patrols, stopped two skiffs on February 19, 120 nautical miles off the Somali Coast and apprehended nine suspected pirates on board.
During the operation, helicopters from both HNLMS De Ruyter and EU Naval Force flagship ESPS Mendez Nunez, together with the Spanish EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA), were able to locate the skiffs. In a combined effort, they were stopped in the water about 200 nautical miles north east of Eyl. The nine men were held on board De Ruyter for further investigation and evidence collection in order to fully assess the possibility of prosecution. The two attack skiffs were also seized.
The Republic of the Seychelles agreed to take the nine suspected pirates for prosecution and De Ruyter, currently alongside in Port Victoria, transferred the men to Seychelles’ authorities.
Speaking about the second successful transfer of suspected pirates by the EU Naval Force within the past five weeks, Operations Commander of the European Union Naval Force Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant said he welcomed the decision by the Seychelles to again prosecute those suspected of attacking ships at sea.
“The Seychelles are a steadfast partner of the EU, determined and committed in the fight against piracy. Once more we have sent a clear message to pirates that the EU Naval Force will always seek, whenever possible, a legal finish.”
The first transfer in 2013 was on January 25 when twelve suspected pirates were transferred to Mauritius for prosecution.