Seychelles to set up maritime centre to coordinate war on ocean criminality-Pirates to be extradited from Montagne Posée to Belgium


The closing session of the conference on Thursday

This was announced by the Foreign Affairs minister Jean-Paul Adam at the close of the two-day high-level conference on piracy on Thursday at Le Méridien Barbarons Hotel.

He said the maritime centre will allow for transnational investigations, linking up with foreign intelligence gathering units, such as Europe’s Europepol and Interpol.

Minister Adam added that the gathering has been such a success in terms of participation by governments, maritime organisations and ocean-related businesses, that it is planned to hold another one in Victoria next year.

Briefing the press after the conference, he said the participants had followed up on President James Michel’s recommendations that better ways be found to implement laws of the sea through inter-governmental agreements and rules of engagement, leading to apprehension and prosecution of suspected pirates.

Mr Adam said the number of states prosecuting suspected pirates is steadily increasing with Mauritius being the latest country giving a commitment to do so.

The Somali autonomous province of Puntland has also given an undertaking that it will accept the transfer of some convicted pirates once a high-level security prison being built there is operational.

He said the conference also recognised the need for capacity building of small coastal states to allow for better surveillance and protection of fisheries, cargo transportation and tourism while piracy continues.

The Minister for Home Affairs, Environment, Transport and Energy, Joel Morgan, said the Seychelles government has agreed to a request from Belgium to extradite a Somali pirate now at Montagne Posée prison for trial.

The suspect, who has been subjected to forensic testing, is believed to have taken part in the hijacking of the Belgian vessel Pompeii in April 2009. The hijacking occurred just over 100 nautical miles from Seychelles and was the farthest from the Somali coast to date.

According to an exposé delivered by a member of the Belgian maritime surveillance, 12 Somali pirates using two skiffs were involved in the hijacking. The vessel was taken to Somalia where reconnaissance aircraft spotted the Indian Ocean Explorer -- on which six Seychellois seafarers, including captain Francis Roucou, had been captured -- anchored 800 metres from the coast, and another Belgian vessel, the Hansa Stavanger, further north. 
 Mr Morgan said vessel protection detachments were also discussed. He said some modelled on the French, use marines while Spanish vessels have recourse to armed security provided by private firms.

Another issue discussed, he said, is the financial flow behind piracy. It was agreed that there should be better coordination among all key players to seize funds at the source. The logic is that if the financing is cut off piracy will stop.

It is believed that nearly all money paid in ransom is taken out of Somalia.
The conference heard that there is an organised hierarchy for piracy operations with even a “Piracy Code of Conduct”.

The men in skiffs who carry out the hijacking are considered the “foot soldiers” who receive very little of the money. Belgian intelligence has established a “Dubai connection” with some bank accounts in the United Arab Emirates where funds earned from piracy is believed to be salted away.

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