Nato nets 7 pirates, sets free 20 fishermen
A Nato spokesman says pirates attacked a tanker in the Gulf of Aden. Nato forces then detained seven Somalis behind the assault and freed 20 Yemenese fisherman being held hostage by the pirates.
Nato spokesman Lt.-Capt. Alexandre Santos Fernandes says a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker issued a distress call early Saturday after pirates attacked it with small arms and rockets.
He says a Dutch warship from the Nato force saw the pirates fleeing toward a Yemeni fishing trawler. Nato troops boarded the trawler, detained the pirates and freed the 20 Yemenese, who had been held hostage since Sunday.
He says the pirates were set free, however, because under Dutch law they could not be held at sea under the circumstances in which they were captured.
Pirates plucked from the sea by navy warships could be tried anywhere from Mombasa to New York, Paris to Rotterdam but most are simply set free to wreak havoc again because of legal issues.
The United States, the European Union and Britain all have signed agreements with Somalia's southern neighbour, Kenya, clearing the way for a slew of court cases in the southern port city of Mombasa. And the most prominent recent case a scrawny Somali teenage pirate who stormed the US-flagged Maersk Alabama this month and was later arrested by the US Navy will be tried in New York.
But prosecutions are rare, and they are taking a back seat to protection as navy vessels concentrate on shepherding cargo ships through the Gulf of Aden, a vital short cut between Europe and Asia that is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.