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28 May, 2009 14:48

Russia hands over Somali pirates to Middle East states

It has been revealed that Russia released 29 pirates held off the Somali coast to Iran and Pakistan three weeks ago, saying there was no legal basis to try them in Russia.

“The pirates were handed over to representatives of Iran and Pakistan after an investigation that lasted about a week,” Interfax news agency quoted a source in the General Headquarters of the Russian Navy.

The pirates were captured in April by the Russian warship Admiral Panteleyev 15 miles east of the Somali coast. They were reportedly planning to capture a tanker with a Russian crew. A source in the country’s military said the warship’s captain had interrogated the detainees. “You can't hold almost thirty foreign citizens on a Russian military ship forever,” the source said.

Meanwhile, the Russian Prosecutor General’s office has proposed to create an international tribunal to fight sea piracy.

Editor-in chief of Sovfracht Maritime Bulletin Mikhail Voitenko told RT that the people captured may turn out to be the pirates’ hostages themselves.

“The question is what the citizens of Iran and Pakistan were doing among the pirates,” Voitenko said.

“There are rumors they claimed that they themselves are in fact hostages. It’s not clear yet whether it’s true or not.”