Three men that have been accused of piracy after attacking a Danish container ship in the Gulf of Guinea have been released onto the water in a small dinghy by military forces. The pirates had been detained upon a warship off the coast of West Africa for six weeks after being captured in November following a deadly exchange of fire on the cargo vessel.
The Danish Armed Forces said they had failed to find a country in the region that would take the alleged pirates. So the decision was taken to release the men near Nigerian waters, with enough food and fuel to get to shore, reports the BBC.
According to Danish authorities, the men were taken prisoner after a shootout on 24 November. Four men were killed by the Danish military patrol – Which is in the area as part of an operation to protect shipping due to heightened risk from pirates – while another man fell overboard in the fight.
Four more men were then detained. The Danish soldiers say the men attacked them first, something the prisoners deny. Only one of the suspects has been taken to Denmark to face a charge of attempted manslaughter, but only after first being taken to Ghana to have his leg amputated. The Danish Justice Ministry said they did not feel it was possible to safely release him at sea. Charges against the other three were dropped, their lawyers confirmed to news agency AFP.
But Birgitte Skjodt, the lawyer of the detained suspect, criticised the decision to still press charges against him, telling local media: “It simply cannot be right to treat the four people so unequally.”
Justice Minister Nick Haekkerup defended Denmark’s decision, saying that it would deter other pirates from attacks. He added that if they had sent the men to Denmark, then there was a “risk that they would not subsequently be deported”.
This is the first time Denmark has extradited a piracy suspect to its territory. It has no agreement regarding extradition with the countries along the Gulf of Guinea coast. The area along the coastline has been known as a hot-spot for piracy for some years now, leading to increased and ever more militarised patrols in the waters there.
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