|Pirates release ‘Stolt Strength’ after five months|
|Thursday, 23 April 2009 11:10|
Somali pirates released ‘Stolt Strength’, a Philippines-flagged tanker and its 23 crew on Tuesday (April 21), five months after the ship was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden.
‘Stolt Strength’ was seized on November 10, 2008, while en route from Senegal to India. A statement released by the Department of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines did not say whether a ransom had been paid to secure the vessel and crew’s release.
Story highlights - Tanker ‘Stolt Strength’ and crew released after five months
- Sole surviving pirate from ‘Maersk Alabama’ hijacking charged in USA
- US Federal judges to decide pirate’s age
- Pirate’s mother in Somalia says her child was brainwashed
In other news, Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, the sole surviving pirate from the hijacking of the ‘Maersk Alabama’ incident, is the continuing source of dispute in US courts.
US Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck ordered the media and public out of a courtroom while he evaluated Mr Muse’s age. Mr Muse’s father in Somalia said his son, who was not born in a hospital, was born on November 20, 1993, making him 15 years old.
US Prosecution, however, has argued that based on statements made by Mr Muse, they have concluded that he is older. Former schoolmates of Mr Muse also reckon he is at least 18 years old. One US federal judge ruled on April 21 that Mr Muse could be tried as an adult.
Mr Muse has been charged on several counts: piracy; conspiracy to take a ship by force; conspiracy to commit hostage-taking; and the possession of two firearms, CNN reported.
Pirates attacked ‘Maersk Alabama’ on April 8 about 560km off the coast of Somalia. After some negotiations, the captain of the vessel, Richard Phillips allowed himself to be taken captive, in order to free his crew. The pirates kept Captain Phillips with them on a lifeboat, along with supplies to last several days.
On April 12, Mr Muse boarded US warship ‘USS Bainbridge’ to negotiate a safe passage for the pirates in exchange for Captain Phillips’ release. While Mr Muse was on board ‘Bainbridge’, US Navy SEALs fired three shots, killing the three remaining pirates on the lifeboat.
Mr Muse was then taken into US custody where he will be the first pirate to be charged in the US in over a century.
Meanwhile, the personal details of Mr Muse and his past remain unclear.
His mother, Adar Abdirahman Hassan, aged 40, told the Associated Press in a phone interview that they last time she saw her son, he was in his school uniform.
“He took all his books the day he disappeared, except one… and did not come back,” Ms Hassan, a single mother, said.
“He was brainwashed. People who are older than him outwitted him…duped him.”
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