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28 May, 2009 03:03

Somali pirates torturing captured Ukrainian sailors

Somali pirates torturing captured Ukrainian sailors

Relatives of the Ukrainian sailors from the bulk cargo ship Ariana, captured by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, state that their relatives held hostage are being tortured, informs Itar-Tass news agency.

The mother of the second mechanic states her son called her and asked for help. The woman said pirates gave the prisoners mobile phones deliberately so that they would tell their relatives what is going on.

“Pirates want money as soon as possible so they want the news about torture to be spread. Sailors are being flogged and put on the metal deck while the temperature there is about +50 C. I heard bolts clanking.”

Officials from the company UkrCrewing that hired sailors for this passage recommended to the relatives of the sailors, all of whom are from Odessa or small cities of Ukraine, to take part in the negotiations with the pirates. The company assures that the talks are going well and there are some improvements.

At the same time, the sailors’ relatives say they are not being informed about the process of negotiations while the water and food reserves on the ship are running out. Pirates are demanding $10 million in exchange for freeing the bulk carrier.

The dry bulk carrier Ariana flying the Maltese flag was captured on May 2 in the Indian Ocean, 250 miles south-west of the Seychelles. The crew consists of 24 members, all of them citizens of Ukraine.

So far the negotiations with pirates have been conducted by the operator company Seven Seas Maritime London, registered in Great Britain.

Another famous case involving Ukrainian sailors and Somali pirates occurred in September 2008 when pirates seized the Ukrainian freighter Faina. The ship which was manned by a crew of 17 Ukrainians, three Russians and one Latvian was carrying 33 battle tanks and ammunition.

The Russian captain died of heart failure during the five months of captivity so only 20 crew members returned home when the three million dollar ransom was paid.