Pirates to face court after capture

HMS Duncan has returned to Portsmouth after spending three months in the Mediterranean Picture:  L/Phot Louise George

HMS Duncan returns to Portsmouth after three months away at sea

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PIRATES caught in a Royal Navy operation led by a captain from Southsea will face justice in the Seychelles.

The Ministry of Defence has released pictures of some of the 14 suspects who were apprehended by naval supply ship RFA Fort Victoria in the Indian Ocean on January 13.

The suspected pirates, who were known to have been operating in the Indian Ocean, were intercepted on board a hijacked Yemeni fishing dhow. They were found to have a variety of pirate paraphernalia and weapons on board, including rocket-propelled grenades and hand held grenades.

The bust was the culmination of four months of counter piracy operations for the UK Counter-Piracy Task Group based in RFA Fort Victoria under the command of Captain Gerry Northwood from Southsea.

He said: ‘This has been a long four months of intensive counter-piracy operations during which time we have captured more than 30 pirates for prosecution and rescued 44 merchant mariners from the hands of the pirates.

‘This success has been echoed by other NATO units engaged in counter-piracy operations and the handover of these 14 suspect pirates to the Seychelles authorities will contribute to ensuring the waters of the Indian Ocean become a safer place for all mariners.’

It is only the second time pirates have faced trial in the Seychelles following signed a memorandum of understanding with the UK government in July 2009.

Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said: ‘We are very grateful to the Seychelles for their agreement to prosecute these suspected pirates.Their commitment to the fight against piracy has helped avoid a situation where these individuals were not held to account for their actions.

‘In a few weeks time the London Conference on Somalia will discuss how the international community can tackle the many problems faced by Somalia, including piracy. Today’s agreement on the transfer of alleged pirates demonstrates what can be achieved through international co-operation and commitment.’