Somali pirates have freed a Belgian ship and its 10-man crew more than two months after the ship was seized in the Indian Ocean.
Jaak Raes, the head of the Belgian government’s crisis team that dealt with the hijacking, said the last of the pirates had left the ship on Sunday morning, June 28. The Pompei, he said, was now on its way to a “safe haven.” The crew is reported to be in good health.
Belgian Defense Minister Pieter De Crem told a news conference on Sunday that a ransom was paid for the release of the hostages and that the money was dropped onto the deck of the Belgian dredging vessel from a helicopter on Saturday.
A tape of the captain, Hendrik Toxopeus, confirming that the hijackers had left was played to the press conference.
“An initial ransom demand was made for $8 million [5,7 million euros],” said Interior Minister Guido De Padt. “After 68 days of negotiations, an agreement was reached on Wednesday, thanks to the mediation of a Somali intermediary, who went on board the ship several times.”
Somali pirates had seized the Pompei and its Dutch captain and crew of two Belgians, four Croatians and three Filipinos on April 18 north of the Seychelles islands. The vessel had been en route to South Africa.
Filed under: SomaliSwiss