Somalia: Three Britons released
According to the BBC, Somalia has pardoned the three Britons caught bringing over £2m in cash into the country to pay a ransom to Somali pirates.
The three individuals, together with an American and two Kenyans, were arrested on 24 May shortly after flying into Mogadishu airport with the money.
All six, whose names remain unknown, were sentenced to jail but the president has since pardoned them. It is reported that group has left Somalia without the money which the government confiscated. It is also reported that the release of their airplane cost £62,000.
The Foreign Office has declined to commented on the pardons.
The BBC have reported that Government spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman said: “Because of their illegal arrival, the two planes were each fined $50,000. And the $3.6m in cash has been taken by the government.”
The two individuals accused of carrying the money each received a 15-year sentence and in addition were fined $15,000 (£9,000) each. The other four – the two pilots and their assistants – received 10-year sentences and fines of $10,000 (£6,000).
Earlier today President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of the interim government pardoned all six men. This was the first case of Westerners having been sentenced for their involvement in the delivery of ransoms. Although the practice has become routine, the Somali government officially opposes the payment of ransoms. It remains to be understood why the group were targeted.
According to the BBC’s East Africa correspondent Will Ross: “Almost all the ships to have been held by Somali pirates have only been released after the payment of a hefty ransom – often several million dollars.” He added that “One government minister said the episode was proof that westerners were fuelling the piracy off the Somali coast.”
Author: Oliver Ward
Date: 26 June 2011