Friday, September 26, 2008

France: Somali pirates start their court process

Reported with "scare quotes" as seen at AFP: Somali 'pirates' brought before Paris prosecutor:
Six Somalis suspected of taking a French couple hostage earlier this month were brought before a Paris prosecutor Thursday to face likely charges of hijacking and hostage-taking, court officials said.

The suspected pirates were captured off the Somali coast and flown to France after French special forces stormed aboard the Carre d'As yacht on September 15 to rescue its crew, a French couple. A seventh suspect was killed.

The six were immediately detained on their arrival Tuesday, and are expected to be charged with hijacking, hostage-taking for ransom and conspiracy.

The prosecutor was expected Thursday to open a formal investigation against the men, paving the way for charges to be brought against them.

The charges carry life sentences and are the same as those brought against six more Somalis captured in April in an earlier raid by French commandos to release the crew of a French-owned luxury cruise yacht.

A legal official said the gang had demanded two million dollars (1.36 million euros) for the safe return of the Carre d'As and its crew, Jean-Yves Delanne et his wife Bernadette, both aged 60, but that no talks had been entered into before the commando raid.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has vowed to get tough with the gangs who prey on shipping in the waters off east Africa's most troubled state.

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