Rights court rules France to pay in piracy arrests

AP News
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Posted: Dec 04, 2014 12:07 PM

PARIS (AP) — Nine Somalis, most of them convicted in a pair of high-seas piracies — including one that ended with a multimillion dollar ransom payment — must be paid thousands more by the French government, Europe's top human rights court ruled Thursday.

The cases date back to 2008, when European military vessels patrolled the waters off the coast of Somalia in response to the growing danger of piracy. The French cruise ship the Ponant was hijacked by a dozen men armed with rocket launchers, who took about 30 people hostage for a week until receiving a $2.15 million ransom.

The same day the ransom was delivered to the port town of Garacad, six Somalis were arrested there. They were detained from April 11 to 18, when they were formally placed under judicial investigation.

In September 2008, a French yacht was also hijacked, with the pirates demanding another $2 million in ransom. Two weeks later, a French commando squad freed the hostages and arrested six suspects. Those men were held from Sept. 16 to 25, before formally being brought before a judge in France.

Nine of the 12 suspects were convicted in the hijackings. Thursday's ruling involved some of the men acquitted as well.

The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights ruled that France did not do enough to guarantee the suspects' rights to liberty and security, and ordered the government to pay each man between 2,000 and 9,000 euros.