Spain unaware of ransom demand by Somali pirates
Madrid – Spanish Defence Minister Carme Chacon Wednesday said she was unaware of any ransom demand by Somali pirates holding a Spanish trawler and its crew in the Indian Ocean.
One of the pirates told AFP earlier Wednesday that they are demanding USD 4 million (EUR 2.8 million) for the release of the ship, the Alakrana, and its 36-member crew, which they seized on 2 October.
The pirates also demanded, as a pre-condition of any deal, the release of two colleagues who are in Spanish custody, Abdi Yare, a 30-year-old pirate told AFP by phone from coastal Harardhere village, off which the Spanish trawler is anchored.
“We are not aware of it,” Chacon told journalists in Bosnia when asked about the demand, in comments released in Spain.
The parliamentary spokesman for the Basque Nationalist Party, Josu Erkoreka, meanwhile accused the government of “unimaginable stupidity” over the arrests of the two pirates, which he said “reduces the margin of manoeuvre” for freeing the trawler.
The two were captured by the Spanish navy after they left the Alakrana on a smaller boat. They arrived Monday in Spain where prosecutors want to try them for their role in the hijacking.
Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said the owners of Spanish trawlers and the leaders of fishermen’s unions would meet at the defence ministry on Thursday to discuss security in the Indian Ocean.
Spanish fleet owners have requested marines be stationed on board their fishing vessels, something it argued France has done since July.
However, Spain’s defence ministry has said Spain cannot station its marines on fishing trawlers, as France is doing, because Spanish law does not allow the military to be used for protecting private property.
In September, Madrid allowed private security firms which protect Spanish fishing boats from Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean to use long-range weapons.