A French court is prosecuting six Somali men accused of holding a French couple hostage on their boat. The trial begins in Paris today.
Experienced sailors Jean-Yves and Bernadette Delanne were en route from Australia to France when the suspected pirates boarded their vessel in September 2008 demanding a ransom of one million US dollars.
The lawyer representing one of the accused, Aurélie Cerceau, claimed some people are forced into hijacking boats.
“There are two reasons they become pirates. Firstly, it’s a necessity for several of them because they have nothing. The climate is hard, in their village there’s nothing – not even a road – it’s between the sea and the desert. Some others are forced to become pirates. When the pirates get them and tell them to join their ship, they have no choice. Otherwise they’re thrown into the water, or they’re killed. So the explanations for this kind of illegal activity are physical and moral. Many cannot escape from it,” Cerceau said.
In the case of the Delannes, the French government refused to pay the ransom and they were freed in an operation by French special forces.
The court proceedings in Paris will not be filmed as one of the accused was under the age of 18 when the crime took place making him a minor.