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Somali pirates free MV Panama after $7 million ransom paid

The vessel was hijacked on December 10 Somali pirates freed the Liberian-flagged container ship MV PANAMA seized last December after receiving a $7 million ransom Tuesday, pirates holding the ship told Reuters.The vessel was hijacked on December 10 en route from Tanzania to Mozambique with a crew of 23 from Myanmar."We received the agreed ransom of $7 million early in the morning after long negotiations. Now we have abandoned the ship and it is sailing away safely," a pirate who gave his name as Abdi told Reuters.Somali piracy is estimated to cost the world economy billions of dollars a year and international navies struggle to combat the menace, especially in the Indian Ocean due to the vast distances involved. The shipping industry has warned that seaborne gangs pose an increasing threat to vital sea lanes.The pirates are becoming increasingly violent and are able to stay out at sea for long periods using captured merchant vessels as mother ships.Source: Reuters

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Somali pirate ransoms skirt U.S. directives

A $3.6 million ransom seized in Somalia in May was destined for a pirate boss subject to U.S. sancti A $3.6 million ransom seized in Somalia in May was destined for a pirate boss subject to U.S. sanctions, an illustration of how a criminal enterprise that costs the globaleconomy billions of dollars pays scant heed to policy directives from Washington.Documents obtained by Reuters and multiple sources in Somalia show the bungled payment was meant to free the Chinese vessel MV Yuan Xiang, and that a pirate gang working for kingpin Mohamed Abdi Garaad was behind the seizure of the ship.While this transaction did not go through, it shows how the ransom industry can operate efficiently despite the strong public stance taken by the United States to curb the financial flows that fuel the flourishing piracy business.The payment of ransoms to Somali pirates is a sensitive and delicate subject. Some $240 million was paid to Somali pirates last year to free ships and crew and as of July another 400 sailors remained hostage off the Somali coast.Those in favor of ransoms argue they are the only safe way to free seafarers. Ransom payments are legal under British law, they are covered ...

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Pirates demand release of captured pirates

They expect Seoul pay ransom for the hostages and release five pirates Somali pirates holding four South Koreans in a hijacked chemical tanker are demanding that Seoul pay ransom for the hostages and release five pirates captured during a January raid of a seized Korean freighter, the Associated Press reported Friday.Hassan Abdi, one of the pirates holding 25 crew aboard the MV Gemini, told the AP that his group wants compensation for eight pirates killed in February when South Korean commandos stormed a ship and freed 21 hostages.Abdi also said he wants pirates being held prisoner in South Korea to be released."First, we want the South Korean government to change its foolish treatment of us and come with a better approach toward us," he said in a statement read to the AP. "Second, we want compensation from them because they killed our brothers and they also have to release others in their jails. After that we may reconsider holding their nationals in our hands," he said.The Singapore-registered MV Gemini was hijacked off the Kenyan coast on April 30. Four of the crew are South Korean. The seizure came about three months after South Korean naval commandos raided a Korean-owned freighter ...

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Somalia pardons pirate ransom deliverymen

Somalia will keep the money The six security contractors, sentenced last week to a total of 70 years in prison for illegally importing US$3.6 million in ransom money for pirates, have been pardoned but Somalia will keep the money, reports London's Containerisation International.The Somali government also fined the three Britons, one American and two Kenyans $100,000 for the release of their two light aircraft.The security contractors were working under the operational charge of a Nairobi-based security company, Salama Fikira, when they were arrested at Mogadishu airport on May 24.Source: Shipping Online

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Somalia frees UK and American ransom couriers

Authorities seized $3.6 million in cash Somalia has pardoned six foreigners convicted of illegally carrying millions of dollars into the country with the intention of paying pirate ransoms, a government spokesman and presidency officials said.Somali authorities detained three Britons, an American and two Kenyans last month, impounding their two aircraft and $3.6 million in cash."Considering the humanitarian situation, the Somali President pardoned the six foreigners," government spokesman Abdirahman Osman Yarisow told Reuters on Sunday, adding that the ransom money the men were carrying would be kept.The men left Mogadishu for Kenya's capital Nairobi aboard their two planes on Sunday afternoon, Yarisow said.The Somali government says it is illegal to pay ransoms to the armed pirate gangs stalking the strategic sea-lanes linking Europe and Asia, but the practice remains common.A Somali court had convicted the six of illegally taking money into the country, aiding and abetting piracy and undermining the integrity of the Somali state.They were handed jail terms of up to 15 years and ordered to pay fines of up to $15,000.The government spokesman and officials at the presidency said the men would be allowed to leave Somalia with the two planes, after paying fines for each aircraft."Because of their ...

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Shipowners will continue to pay ransoms

Companies to meet their humanitarian obligations toward their crew There is no getting away from the fact that shipowners will find a way to get ships released.Shipowners will continue to pay ransoms despite the sentencing of six security personnel arrested at Mogadishu airport while delivering money but now the UK Foreign Office has opened its own investigation into piracy and ransoms.The six men, including three UK citizens hired by security company Salama Fikira, were handling 2.2m ($3.6m) intended to secure the release of the 17,300-dwt Suez (built 1984) and 22,350-dwt Yuan Xiang (built 1978). They received sentences of between 10 and 15 years.The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) director of external affairs Simon Bennett says he believes shipowners will not be discouraged and will still find a way to make the payments. "It will not alter the determination of shipping companies to meet their humanitarian obligations toward their crew," he added.Security companies say there are many alternatives available to owners including tried and tested methods of dropping ransoms on beaches and directly onto ships from the air.Ince & Co partner Stephen Askins adds that ransom payments are still being made. "Ransoms have been paid since the arrest. Delivery companies will ...

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