Italian tanker is free from Somali pirates

AP News
Posted: Dec 21, 2011 1:13 PM
Italian tanker is free from Somali pirates

An Italian oil tanker and its crew of 22 were released Wednesday, 10 months after being seized by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, the foreign ministry said, crediting intense diplomacy for their freedom.

Pirates seized the Savina Caylyn, with its crew of five Italians and 17 Indians, on Feb. 8.

"The Italian government never contemplated the possibility of direct negotiations with the pirates, much less the payment of ransom for the liberation of the hostages" aboard the vessel, the ministry said in a statement.

Because of a request by the hostages' families, any military action was avoided that could have endangered the safety of the hostages, the ministry said. Italian navy vessels in the area helped to gather information about the crew's situation.

The ministry said "intense and organized diplomatic action" was carried out in the months since the seizure. That included "constant pressure" on Somali authorities, it said.

Last month, an Italian cargo ship and its crew were released after being held for seven months by pirates off Somalia.