A group of Somalis who were detained by a Danish warship last year as they suspiciously approached a Danish merchant vessel off Somalia, are demanding damages on allegations of a month’s unlawful detention in the brig.
The group was eventually released and sailed to the Somali coast after the Prosecutor For Special International Criminal Cases in Copenhagen decided not to prosecute the six.
As their case would have been heard in Denmark, the group was appointed a Danish defence counsel who has now decided to seek damages for wrongful arrest and compensation for personal effects they lost when arrested.
At the same time, the owner of the boat used to sail from the Somali coast is demanding compensation for his boat and engine, the lawyer tells politiken.dk.
The six men’s encounter with the Danish military and legal system came just before the New Year when they are reported to have suspiciously approached the Elly Maersk.
When Danish personnel approached their boat, the Somalis threw effects overboard. No fishing equipment was found in the boat, prompting the unit to believe they had been preparing an assault on the Elly Maersk.
The Maersk vessel had raised the alarm and was assisted by a helicopter from the command and support vessel Esbern Snare, which unsuccessfully attempted to stop the Somalis, who continued towards the Danish merchant vessel, using smoke buoys. The boat was eventually stopped with a single shot into its engine and the men were eventually detained in the Esbern Snare’s brig on charges of suspected piracy.
The men all denied charges of attempted piracy and the Danish Prosecutor For Special International Criminal Cases, who questioned the six by video link, eventually decided to drop charges. The men were taken to the Somali coast and released.
The case has now resulted in the men’s Danish counsel deciding to sue the Danish state for tort and compensation for the effects they lost. If a court finds in their favour, the six can expect some DKK 30,000 each.
The Esbern Snare has detained some 200 suspected Somali pirates during its operations as part of an international anti-piracy operation off Somalia. All of those detained, apart from the six, have immediately been taken to the Somali coast and released.
Somali pirates are currently holding some 28 international vessels and 587 hostages, according to the report by the International Chamber of Commerce. These include a Danish yachting family of two adults, three children and two additional crewmembers who were taken hostage on Feb 24, as well as the crew of a Danish cargo vessel.
Edited by Julian Isherwood