The trial has opened in Paris of six Somalis accused of taking a French yacht crew hostage in the Gulf of Aden four years ago.
The men, aged between 25 and 50, are charged with kidnapping and theft and face possible life sentences if convicted.
All were arrested on land in Somalia in an operation carried out by French forces. Earlier, the hostages had been released after a ransom of 2.15 million dollars was paid by the yacht’s owner.
The men were caught with 200,000 dollars and weapons as they were travelling in a 4×4. Only one admitted being a pirate.
Two others said they had boarded the yacht, Le Ponant, but claimed to have been supplying the pirates with goats and cigarettes. Three denied ever having set foot on the yacht.
All were positively identified by the crew as the pirates, although some members have since said they’re unsure.
The crew had been sailing the yacht from the Seychelles to Yemen where they were due to pick up passengers for a cruise.
The defence team at the trial is expected to highlight the harsh economic conditions in Somalia.
In total, 22 Somalis are being held by France in connection with hostage-taking events.