In Spain, a vigil which lasted 47 days by family and friends of a Basque owned fishing boat hijacked by Somali pirates has ended in relief.
Relatives of the 36 crew of the trawler Alakrana are celebrating after the Spanish Government paid the hijackers a ransom reported to be nearly three million euro for the ship and the safe release of the men on board. The sister of one of the crew said: “ We didn’t expect it was going to be today. We knew that it was going to happen this week. We gave them a deadline and we have maintained a silence in order to let them work.” Another friend added: “It’s a very happy day for everybody, not only for the families of the 36 crew members, but also to thousands of people that were behind them.” The Alakrana was one of at least 13 ships held off the Somali coast. The Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, made the announcement of the conclusion of the hijack live on Spanish Television. He avoided a direct question on the payment of a ransom and choosing to stress instead that no blood had been shed. “The fishing boat Alakrana sails to safer seas. All the crew members are safe and sound,” he announced. The capture and subsequent trial of two Somali gunmen near the tuna ship complicated the negotiatons with the hijackers demanding the prisoners release. A Spanish judge has now ruled they should be tried within the next two weeks, paving the way for an early extradition.