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France told to pay Somali pirates

Nine Somalis, most of them convicted over a pair of high-seas piracies, must be paid thousands by the French government, Europe's top human rights court has ruled.

The cases date back to 2008, when European military vessels patrolled the waters off the coast of Somalia in response to the growing danger of piracy.

The French cruise ship the Ponant was hijacked by a dozen men armed with rocket launchers, who took about 30 people hostage for a week until receiving a 2.15 million dollars (£1.4 million) ransom.

The same day the ransom was delivered to the port town of Garacad, six Somalis were arrested there. They were detained from April 11 to 18, when they were formally placed under judicial investigation.

In September 2008, a French yacht was also hijacked, with the pirates demanding another two million dollars (£1.2 million) in ransom.

Two weeks later, a French commando squad freed the hostages and arrested six suspects. Those men were held from September 16 to 25, before formally being brought before a judge in France.

Nine of the 12 suspects were convicted over the hijackings. Today's ruling involved some of the men acquitted as well.

The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights ruled that France did not do enough to guarantee the suspects' rights to liberty and security.

It has ordered the government to pay each man between 2,000 euro (£1,600) and 9,000 euro (£7,000).


From Belfast Telegraph