Somali pirates continue to hold hostage six Indian officers from the MT Asphalt Venture,

Despite a multi million pound ransom having been paid, Somali pirates continue to hold hostage six Indian officers and one crew member from the MT Asphalt Venture, after more than two years of captivity.

Eight seafarer hostages and the ship were released in April 2011 following payment of the ransom. Their captors are now said to be demanding the release of convicted Somali pirates from Indian jails in exchange for the freedom of the remaining crew.

A video film highlighting the hostages' plight has been released in an attempt to secure their release by making the Indian Government and the rest of the world aware of the extent of their plight

Save Our Seafarers (SOS), the international campaign to end piracy, would like to see appropriate action taken to secure the immediate release of these hostages.

The tanker was hijacked off the coast of Dar es Salaam, in the Indian Ocean, on 28 September 2010, on route to South Africa from Kenya. OMCI Shipmanagement, the tanker's Mumbai-based manager, has attempted to persuade the pirates to release of the remaining crew members by appointing a third-party expert negotiator.

Alastair Evitt, chairman of SOS SaveOurSeafarers, said:

"We support OMCI Ship management's stance that these pirates should honour the ransom deal they negotiated and immediately release the remaining Indian hostages. The management company and insurers have kept their side of the agreement and are powerless to do any more. We believe that no government is likely to submit to this sort of blackmail, that bowing to such pressure and releasing lawfully convicted prisoners in order to secure the freedom of these hostages would set a catastrophic precedent and could open the floodgates to an upsurge of criminal hostage-taking.

"Our campaign's aim is to eradicate Somali piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. We believe this can be done in a number of ways: increasing the strength of naval forces patrolling the Gulf of Aden and Western Indian Ocean; ensuring that pirates will face trial when captured and seeking a sustainable political solution to the underlying problems in Somalia."

Somali pirates have hijacked 212 seafarers and 13 ships this year, according to the InternatIonal Maritime Bureau, with another 58 attempted attacks.

171 seafarers are currently held hostage by Somali pirates, including:

  • Four merchant vessels with 88 crew members
  • Seven fishing boats/dhows with 54 crew members
  • 29 seafarers held ashore with no ships

Source: SaveOurSeafarers