Somali pirate admits Danish ship hijacking

A Somali pirate has admitted hijacking a Danish ship in the Gulf of Aden, in what could be a major breakthrough in attempts to bring such cases to justice. The man, who is under indictment after illegally boarding the CEC Future in November 2008, will be the first to be sentenced following a hijacking.

The ship’s crew were held captive for 71 days until the Copenhagen-based Clipper Group, which administers the vessel, agreed to pay a ransom of USD 1.7 million. The 38-year-old Somali man was arrested by the US Navy on 10 April when he and five others fired shots at the Navy’s USS Ashland ship, thinking it was a merchant vessel.

Per Gullestrup, CEO of Clipper Group, said he is glad the FBI have finally been able to bring a case to court. “It should not be possible to attack merchant vessels unpunished, so it is important that pirates are apprehended and tried,” he said, adding: “It is important for a sense of justice in general. It is not enough that naval vessels hunt pirates in the Gulf of Aden – that is just treating symptoms.”

According to documents received from the court in Washington DC by Politiken, the prosecution and defence have agreed a sentence of 25 years in prison for the hijacking of the CEC Future, although the man may be liable for an additional 30-year term for the USS Ashland attack. Other pirates, caught while attempting to take over vessels, are currently awaiting trial in the Netherlands and Kenya.

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