18 captured ‘pirates’ released without charge

A group of 18 suspected pirates, who were detained a fortnight ago by Finnish minelayer Phojanmaa, have been released as no country was willing to accept or prosecute them. The group of Somali men, who were arrested as part of the EU Atlanta anti-piracy operation, were set loose on the shores of their own country on Thursday.

Spokesman for EU Atlanta, Paddy O’Kennedy, said the 18 were released in an undisclosed location on humanitarian grounds, as no nation was willing take responsibility for investigating or prosecuting the alleged crimes.

“Personal items were returned to the Somali men before their release. Confiscated weapons and other items related to piracy were not returned to them,” said the skipper of the Pohjanmaa, Commander Mika Raunu, in a YLE report.

Pohjanmaa took custody of the suspects after an attack on a Singaporean vessel, but Finland refused to take the cases to trial as no attempt had been made on any Finnish nationals or ships. The EU also decided not to release the men to Singapore as they could have faced the death penalty if found guilty there.

Pohjanmaa will continue patrolling the Indian Ocean until the end of the month as part of the EU anti-piracy operation. The area is plagued with sea-faring criminals looking to ambush aid vessels heading into Somalia.

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