Data loading...

Somali Leader Promises Spain To Help Free 36 Tuna Fishermen

Somalia's prime minister has promised to help efforts to free a Spanish tuna fishing boat seized by pirates off the Somali coast, Spain said on Monday.

Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos spoke by telephone to Omar Abdirashid Ali Ibrahim to discuss the seizure of the Alakrana boat and its crew of 36, a government statement said.

“The number one authority in Somalia has committed himself to helping all the steps which the Spanish government is taking to liberate the Alakrana,” it said.

The Spanish ambassador in Kenya has also spoken to Somalia's interior minister about the hijacking, it said.

Gangs from Somalia, some made up of former fishermen, have made tens of millions of dollars in ransoms by seizing boats in shipping lanes linking Europe to Asia.

The government of Somalia, where civil war has been going on for 18 years, controls only small pockets of the capital, Mogadishu.

The Spanish navy on Sunday intercepted a skiff in which two suspected members of the pirate gang were trying to make their way ashore. They have been charged with terrorism and armed robbery.

On Monday, Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon ordered the two to be brought to Spain and kept in custody during the investigation into the hijacking.

In May, a Spanish court tried to bring a group of suspected Somali pirates to Spain for trial but eventually surrendered them to Kenya.Many pirates escape prosecution and are set free because of doubts over the jurisdictions where they are captured or because Western governments fear they may try to claim asylum if transferred to their countries for trial.

Spain's Defence Minister Carme Chacon on Monday ruled out putting marines on board Spanish fishing boats to help protect them from pirate attacks, as France has done.

“Legally, of course, it is not possible, but operationally it isn't possible either,” Chacon told Spanish state television.

“What is possible, and what is recognized by the private security law, is for private security guards to do that for private boats for their private protection.”