S Korea to prosecute 5 Somali pirates

2011-01-25 07:58

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Seoul - South Korea said on Tuesday it plans to prosecute five Somali pirates captured by South Korean commandos during a raid on a hijacked cargo ship in the Arabian sea.

The navy commandos rescued all 21 crew members during the daring raid last Thursday. Five pirates were detained and eight killed in the rescue.

"The government's stance is to prosecute pirates rather than swapping them" for other fishermen being held by pirates in a separate hijacking case, defence ministry said in a briefing on Tuesday. He did not elaborate on what charges the detainees would face.

In October, Somali pirates hijacked a South Korean-operated fishing boat with 43 sailors - two South Korean, two Chinese and 39 Kenyans. They still haven't been released.

It wasn't immediately known if the captured Somalis had any information on the October hijacking.

On Monday, South Korea's defence minister warned that its intelligence indicated Somali pirates may attack South Korean ships in retaliation for the killing last week of the eight pirates by Korean commandos.

Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin told reporters that South Korean ships sailing in the Gulf of Aden must strengthen safety measures to prevent such an attack. He didn't elaborate on the intelligence.

After the operation, some experts said retaliation seemed unlikely, since the pirates' business model is predicated on keeping crews unhurt to extract ransoms.

On Monday, the chief of staff of the anti-piracy force that patrols the waters off Somalia urged countries to do just that, welcoming a move by the Philippines to consider bringing pirates to the country to try them. US Navy Capt Chris Chambers was speaking at a briefing on piracy for diplomats, maritime industry members and media in the Philippines, the leading supplier of seafarers globally.

Chambers said finding countries willing to prosecute pirates arrested off the East African coast has been a problem and many captured assailants are simply let go after being disarmed.

- AP
Read more on:    south korea  |  somali pirates
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