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Somalia ransom probe Britons jailed

Three Britons who allegedly took millions of dollars into Somalia to pay pirate ransoms have been jailed in the Horn of Africa.

The two men accused of carrying the cash were sentenced to 15 years behind bars and handed a $15,000 fine while the third was ordered to serve 10 years and pay $10,000.

They are now being held in Mogadishu along with an American and two Kenyans who were given 10-year prison terms for their roles.

The group was arrested last month shortly after flying into the capital's airport with around $3.6 million (£2.2 million) in cash, it was claimed.

A Somali official has said the planes they used are frequently employed by companies delivering ransoms.

It is the first time Westerners have been sentenced for involvement in pirate payments.

Officials did not give further details on the jailed men but it is understood they are unlikely to have to serve their full sentences and discussions are under way to reduce or overturn the penalties.

Asked about possible pardons or parole, Somali Information Ministry spokesman Abdifitah Abdinur said: "Everything is possible and I can't comment on the future."

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of the verdict. We have impressed upon the transitional federal government to ensure the safety and security of the group while legal options are considered."

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