Three Iranian hostages held in captivity for five years by Somali pirates have been released.
Current reports have however emerged indicating that a ship has just been seized after a three-year hiatus in hijackings.
The three Iranians are the last of the crew of the Iranian fishing vessel FV Siraj, which was captured by pirates on March 22, 2015.
“This marks the end of an era of Somali piracy and the pain and suffering of Somalia’s forgotten hostages,” said John Steed, the coordinator of the Hostage Support Programme, a volunteer organisation based in Nairobi to help rescue crews abandoned by their employers in a Reuters report.
The release is meant to mark the end of an era for Somalia’s pirates, who held over 2,300 crew between 2010 and 2019.
Meanwhile in Nigeria, the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt has convicted 3 of the 9 accused persons who on March 21 hijacked an Equatorial Guinea flagged vessel, MV ELOBEY VI off the coast of Equatorial Guinea.
Navy Director of Information, Commodore Suleman Dahun, who made this known in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja, said Justice Ishaq Sani pronounced the judgement on Monday.
Dahun said the judge summarily convicted Binaebi Johnson, Daniel Lemmar and Ghane Gordon on Counts 1 and 2.
He said that the three were convicted under the new Anti-Piracy Act 2019 and ordered to pay a fine of N10 Million each on each of the counts.
Dahun said during the hearing, the prosecution filed an amended charge dated Aug. 7. “In its ruling on the bail application, the bail application was not granted because the accused persons may not make themselves available to stand trial if granted bail. Consequently, the court arraigned the accused persons on the amended charges.
During the proceedings, Binaebi Johnson, Daniel Lemmar and Ghane Gordon pleaded guilty to counts 1 and 2 and not guilty to counts 3 – 5 while the remaining 6 accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
Accordingly, the prosecutor applied to the court to withdraw the charges on which the accused persons pleaded not guilty.
“The prayer was granted and the accused persons were discharged on counts 3 – 5,” Dahun added.
Dahun recalled that the Nigerian Navy had arrested Binaebi Johnson, Daniel Lemmar, Ghane Gordon, Hassan Hakeem, Gregory Smith, Ofem Uket, John Mark, Chidi Amadi and Eze Amadi who were suspected to be members of the kidnapping syndicate that hijacked the vessel.
It was reported that the kidnappers demanded a two million dollar ransom out of which $200,000 was eventually paid.
Dahun said after their arrest by the Nigerian Navy, the suspects were arraigned before the FHC, Port Harcourt on July 23 on a 7 count charge to which all the accused persons pleaded not guilty.
As a result, the counsel to the accused persons made an application for bail pending the conclusion of the trial.
The matter has been adjourned to Aug. 10, 11 and 12 for ruling on the bail application and commencement of the trial.
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