Six suspected Somali pirates have been transferred to the Seychelles following their arrest for attacks earlier this month off southern Somalia, a Seychelles prisons official said.
The suspects arrived Thursday morning at the port of Victoria, capital of the Indian Ocean archipelago nation, said Raymond St Ange, acting commissioner of Montagne Posee prison.
The six were arrested by the Italian navy, deployed as part of the European anti-piracy operation Atlanta, after being spotted by a military helicopter while attacking a container ship and a fishing vessel on November 17 and 18.
The men were transferred to the Seychelles under an agreement with the EU. “The agreement allows us to prosecute cases of piracy, but the prosecution will depend on the evidence presented to the attorney general,” St Ange said.
There have been several attempted hijackings in recent months, a worrying sign of a possible resurgence of Somali piracy which had declined from its 2011 peak as navy patrols were stepped up.
The years-long scourge disrupted international shipping and led to the kidnapping for ransom of many hundreds of seafarers.
While warships and armed guards have reduced the number of attacks, they have done nothing to address the root causes of piracy, which lie in Somalia’s decades of state failure, poverty and lack of economic opportunity.
The last similar transfer of suspects to the Seychelles was in 2014.