The Defence Ministry confirmed that five Somali pirates being held on Danish ship Absalon will be handed over to the Dutch Justice Ministry for prosecution.
The pirates were captured on 2 January after attempting to hijack a Netherlands Antilles-registered cargo ship. The cargo ship fired a flare at the pirate boat, which caught fire and resulted in the Absalon rescuing the pirates and sinking their vessel.
Concerns were raised about the Absalon having the free the pirates as Denmark has no legal jurisdiction over them. The Absalon previously had to release 10 pirates for the same reason and could not hand them over to Somali authorities for fear of reprisals.
Nine EU countries have banded together to actively pursue pirates in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of north Africa and are sending a fleet to the area to relieve the Nato mission currently patrolling the waters. However, due to EU opt-outs, Denmark is not part of the new task force.
A spokesman for the ministry said that the ‘Dutch government wants to start the process for the handover’, but that details of how and when have not yet been agreed.
Defence Minister Søren Gade said he was relieved by the news.
‘It sends a strong signal to the pirates in the area that there are countries which can and will prosecute them if they are captured in connection with piracy,’ Gade told public broadcaster DR.