Captured Somali pirates arrive in Malaysia, charged in South Korea

By NNN-Agencies,

Kuala Lumpur : The seven Somali pirates, captured by the Malaysian navy in the Gulf of Aden on Jan 21, were brought to Malaysia on Monday to face charges.

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They are now in Klang Hospital for a medical check up.

Dressed in orange overalls, they were seen stepping down from a bus which was part of a convoy of about a dozen police vehicles.

They landed in Port Klang Monday morning and were taken to the Port Klang marine police base, at first, and then taken to the Pandamaran police station at 9.55am.

The seven Somali pirates were captured when they attempted to hijack a Malaysian chemical tanker in the Gulf of Aden.

The navy freed the 23 crewmembers of the MT Bunga Laurel after a gun battle on Jan 21 that wounded three pirates. All crew members were uninjured.

As the pirates were arrested in the gulf, 7,000km away where Malaysia is not a littoral state, and none of the crew were Malaysian, the Home Ministry’s legal experts, the National Security Council and the Attorney-General’s Chambers are studying the case to see how the pirates can be charged in Malaysian courts.

News reports said the Bunga Laurel is a Panama-registered vessel owned by a Japanese shipping company and managed and chartered by the Malaysian International Shipping Corporation.

It was manned by a Filipino crew, carried the cargo of another country and was hijacked in international waters in the gulf off Oman before it was taken by Malaysian commandos.

Somali pirates have made millions of dollars hijacking ships in recent years. The European Union, which has an anti-piracy force, says pirates are holding at least 25 ships with more than 600 hostages.

In SEOUL/BUSAN, five Somali pirates, captured during a recent rescue operation on a South Korean freighter, were formally arrested Sunday in South Korea on charges of hijacking the ship and shooting its captain, marking the first such litigation case in the country.

The pirates are accused of hijacking the 11,500-ton Samho Jewelry in the Arabian Sea on Jan. 15 and firing at the ship’s captain during a rescue operation by South Korean Navy commandos on Jan. 21.

The 58-year-old captain, Seok Hae-kyun, was seriously wounded and is currently receiving treatment at a hospital south of Seoul.

Meanwhile, the remaining seven South Korean crew members of a cargo ship rescued from Somali pirates are expected to head home Tuesday now that Oman has allowed the vessel to dock in the country, an official said.

The 11,500-ton Samho Jewelry and its 21 crew members, including eight South Koreans, were freed in a Jan. 21 commando raid. All crew members were rescued alive — though the captain was seriously wounded — in the daring operation that also killed eight pirates and captured five others alive.