Pirate suspects held on Spanish ship

Spanish ship captures 7 shipwrecked pirates

Spain is now facing the dilemma of what to do with the 7 pirates captured in the Indian Ocean. According to the Ministry of Defence a Spanish petrol tanker, the Marqués de la Ensenada, which was travelling through the Gulf of Aden received a mayday call at 11.10 am (Spanish time) from another ship, the Nepheli, which was flying the Panamanian flag and which was being attacked by another lighter vessel.

The petrol tanker which was approximately 15 miles away went to help the Nepheli and sent its helicopter to survey the situation in advance of its arrival. When the tanker arrived in the area it found a capsized vessel and 7 people in the water. It is believed that the evasive action taken by the Nepheli led to the boat to capsize.
When the Marqués de la Ensenada arrived it rescued the 7 people in the water. The Ministry of Defence is now waiting for sufficient evidence to show that the 7 people rescued by the tanker are in fact pirates.

Last night the Ministry confirmed that the captain of the Nepheli, a Filipino, has signed a declaration accusing the 7 men of attempting to hijack his ship which had several bullet holes in its windows and bodywork. Although no firearms were found on the vessel belonging to the pirates some petrol containers, oil containers, a magnetic needle and a GPS system were discovered.

According to the protocol which Spanish sailors are obliged to follow when pirates are detained they must be taken firstly to court in Spain. However, the ship which was being attacked was not Spanish and so according to the current legal code the crime of piracy is not applicable in such cases. The alternative option is to hand the captured men over to Kenya which has signed an agreement with the EU.

So far Spanish ships which have participated in capturing dozens of pirates have not had to decide over the fate of those captured.

The 14 pirates which were captured last weekend remained in the custody of the French ship, the Nivose and were handed over to the authorities in the Seychelles, given that the events took place in its waters.

Spain has contributed 395 military personnel to a NATO operation which is currently patrolling the Atlantic Ocean. In addition the frigate, Blas de Lezo (with 212 sailors) is at the disposition of NATO until the end of June.