5 Somali pirates sentenced to Dutch prison

Posted on | augustus 13, 2011 | No Comments

The criminal court in Rotterdam, the Netherlands has sentenced five Somalian pirates, captured by the Dutch navy after hijacking a South African yacht and kidnapping two of its South African crew-members, to up to 7 years imprisonment today, reports the Dutch NOS.nl news agency. Although the Dutch navy rescued the South African skipper and his yacht and towed it to Richard’s Bay harbour, the South African authorities refused to prosecute the captured Somalians. Instead, the Dutch navy took the five Somalis to the Netherlands for trial.

The captain of the yacht, Peter Eldridge, submitted testimony to the Dutch authorities and the law courts about the cruel circumstances in which he and his two crew-members were attacked. Eldridge refused to leave his yacht and was rescued by the Dutch navy. The Dutch captured five of the pirates but others managed to drag away the two Afrikaner crew-members, Bruno Pelizzari and his life-partner Deborah Calitz. They have been in captivity ever since October 26, 2010, ‘somewhere in Mogadishu’.

In January this year, Peter Eldridge, skipper of the yacht Choizil, returned to South Africa after described his ordeal at the hands of Somali pirates to Dutch police and court officials.

It has also been reported that the captured Durban couple, both Christians, were nearly killed shortly after their capture – due to ‘a ‘misunderstanding with Somali pirates with a religious agenda’ but that they were said to be ‘safe’ in Mogadishu since that time. The South African authorities claim that they are ‘negotiating for their release”. The couple have no money for ransom and neither do their family. It’s not known how the imprisonment of the five Somalians in the Netherlands will now affect the safety of the two South Africans.

Richards Bay yachtsman Peter Eldridge, owner of the yacht Choizil, was exhausted after returning from the Netherlands, where he was interviewed by police and court officials on his hijacking by Somali pirates near Tanzania on Oct 26 2010, reported Bronwyn Gerretsen. Mr Eldridge’s yacht was pirated on the high seas near Tanzania by AK47-wielding pirates on October 26. He, along with his crew, Durban couple Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz, were held hostage for 13 days before the yacht ws run aground. Eldridge was left on the yacht after he refused to disembark, but Pelizzari and Ms Calitz were taken hostage. Five Somali pirates – among those who hijacked Eldridge – were arrested by the anti-piracy task force and put on trial in the Netherlands law courts. Eldridge was returned to Richard’s Bay by a Dutch warship after his ordeal, and last week was flown to the Netherlands to testify. He was first interviewed by Dutch police, to whom he related details of the incident.

“The most important thing now is to get Bruno and Debbie back safely,” said SA yachtsman Peter Eldridge after testifying at the trial of five captured Somali pirates in The Netherlands, which led to their imprisonment on August 12 2011 in Rotterdam.

He positively identified the accused men as being among the armed pirates who had hijacked the Choizil. “I then went before the magistrate and said virtually the same things, and was then asked questions by the lawyers.” He said that giving evidence there and knowing that some of the men had been arrested had not helped him in dealing with the trauma of the incident. “It is probably something I will never get over. The most important thing now is to get Bruno and Debbie back safely,” he said at the time.

According to Sail World’s purportedly ‘well-placed source’ in February this year a man named Andrew Mwangura in Kenya, and whose links with the piracy-industry in Somalia have in the past were said to be ‘extremely accurate’, the abducted couple Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz were moved to Mogadishu after their capture.

Islamic pirate-group with a religious agenda had a ‘misunderstanding over the captured SA couple’
“This followed a ‘misunderstanding’ between their captors and an Islamic pirate group which has a religious agenda. ‘They (the gunmen) are now talking to find a solution,’ Mwangura said. South African International Relations spokesman Saul Kgomotso Molobi said yesterday that ‘the kidnappers had not made contact with the South African government nor with the relatives of Bruno Pelizzari and his partner, Deborah Calitz. ‘They have not sent any ransom demands so we don’t know what they want,’ he said. However, Molobi said hope for the couple’s safe return has not faded, as pirates sometimes took a long time to make ransom demands. ‘We believe they are alive. “

SA spokesman Saul Molobi: “ South Africa has not interfered with Somalia by sending military to that country, so we are taking this as a good sign that hostages from South Africa will not be harmed. In one incident, pirates made a ransom demand four weeks after the kidnapping so there’s no reason to lose hope.’

Details of Yacht Choizil’s attack by pirates near Tanzania coast
In a blow by blow account of the traumatic hijacking off the Tanzanian coast on October 26, Peter Eldridge, 61, explained that he was prepared to sink his yacht, SY Choizil, if the pirates made it their ‘mother ship’ to rob other vessels. ‘I had made peace that … if they were going to go ahead with their plan to make it their mother ship, I was prepared to sink with my yacht and the pirates,’ he said.

Eldridge refused to leave his yacht when the pirates took his crew hostage on November 7. Eldridge, an experienced yachtsman, had lived on his yacht on the coast of Dar-es- Salaam for several years. ‘I decided to sail to Richards Bay in November because it was a good time to sail. I approached Bruno and Debbie to be my crew and they agreed because this would allow them to visit their families back home,’ Eldridge said at the Zululand Yacht Club. He said the issue of piracy was fully discussed in Dar-es-Salaam with the couple before they set sail in October. ‘We believed that in the likely event of being attacked, we would be robbed and then the pirates would leave us,’ he said. On October 26, 160km from the Tanzanian coast, two motorboats pulled up on either side of the yacht. He was quickly able to send out a mayday signal. Twelve pirates, armed with AK47 guns and RPG rockets, boarded the yacht. ‘Communication was poor but they demanded the satellite radio and any cellphones we had. They disconnected the fixed radio and removed it.’ The three were held at gunpoint while the vessel was searched.

‘All the presents that Bruno and Debbie had bought for family back home and their money were found. When they came back we repeatedly told them we didn’t have any money and that we were South African,’ he said. The pirates stayed on the yacht while a mother-ship carrying drums of fuel delivered food and tea to them. On November 7, the pirates spotted a French warship on the horizon. ‘There were two boats. One was from Amsterdam. Their helicopters were hovering overhead. The pirates then began firing at the warship with their AK47s and launched rockets.’ He was told to contact the French vessel. Eldridge was able to inform them over the radio that there were eight pirates on board. ‘Afterwards, the pirates made us sit on the side of the yacht, facing the warship. They had guns to our heads,’ he said. The pirates motored the yacht until the motor seized and it ws run aground on the Somali coast. The couple were forced ashore but Eldridge refused to leave. ‘One of the pirates came back,’ he said. ‘He ripped the microphone from the radio and started beating me. I refused to go. I lodged myself so he couldn’t pull me out. He then discharged his weapon. I was uninjured. He then left.’ Eldridge made contact with the warship again and was rescued.

AUTHOR: Adriana Stuijt
URL: http://censorbugbear.blogspot.com
E-MAIL: a.j.stuijt [at] knid.nl


Leave a Reply

Page 1 of 11