Hostages in high spirits as release talks begin


10-November-2011

“They were in high spirits, are well-fed and not badly treated so far,” Home Affairs, Environment, Transport and Energy Minister Joel Morgan – who also chairs the high-level committee on piracy – said in an interview yesterday.

“We gave them all the moral support we could as we started talks with the pirates’ negotiator and Somali authorities,” he said, adding the pirates asked for a ransom whose amount he would not disclose, adding there are no plans to pay the pirates.
 
Seychelles told the captors the well-being of the two men is their responsibility and they are answerable for it.

He said the fishermen were not picked simply because they are Seychellois but the pirates, and an English-speaking negotiator who appeared to have been here, seem to think Seychelles has a lot of money.

“I know Seychelles,” Mr Morgan quoted a Somali negotiator as saying.

He said while his team was inexperienced before when handling the first cases, they now have a lot of experience, know how to handle the captors and have good contacts outside Seychelles, though it remains impossible to predict how long it would take to secure the release of the fishermen.

Former captive, Captain Francis Roucou, who spent over 80 days in Somalia, is helping in the negotiations.

It was obvious from the phone calls that the men are being held in a place with a lot of armed people and possibly other hostages, said Mr Morgan.

“We were able to speak to our brothers in Creole and so also did members of the family,” he said.

“Our aim is to get them released as soon as possible, if not immediately, and we have put on a lot of pressure through one-and-a half hours during which we told them what they did was wrong.

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