After more than two years of captivity, the six sailors who were kidnapped by Somali pirates in the hijacking of the Danish cargo ship MV Leopard in January 2011, released and taken to safety.
The two Danish and the four Philippine seamen have very recently been released off the Somali coast and are now in safe surroundings.
‚ÄùIt is with very great happiness and relief we can inform that our colleagues finally have been released. The past more than two years have been extremely traumatic and inhuman for our crew and their families, and we very much look forward to having our colleagues back home‚Äù, informs Claus Bech, Managing Director of Shipcraft.
‚ÄùI have just talked to the families of the seamen. It was a very emotional moment, and it goes without saying that the happy news were received with great joy‚Äù, informs Claus Bech, who now himself travels to meet the seamen at their resort.
In Safety with Qualified Team
The seamen are now in safety and are surrounded by a professional team consisting of both doctors and psychologists.
‚ÄùThe first evaluations are that our colleagues, considering the circumstances, are ok. However, it is important to us that they receive the best possible medical assistance now, and as soon as they have been thoroughly examined and have received the doctor‚Äôs acceptance, they will be brought home to their families‚Äù, informs Claus Bech.
This long period of time in captivity has been inhuman and exhausting for the hostages. For now details of the captivity is limited. The seamen were kidnapped by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea in January 2011, when pirates captured the coaster M/V Leopard. However, the pirates damaged the ship and left it drifting. Instead the pirates kidnapped the crew and since took them ashore, where they were moved to different locations in Somalia. On a few occasions the hostages have been allowed to talk to their families.
For now Shipcraft‚Äôs main focus is to help the seamen get back to a normal life. When they return home, they first and foremost need peace and quiet and undisturbed time with their families.
¬≥The traumatic and inhuman conditions our colleagues have experienced have of course affected them deeply. Now our main focus is to ensure they get a good reintegration‚Äù, says Claus Bech.
Close Cooperation with Authorities and Kidnapping Experts
Since the kidnapping of the crew Shipcraft has worked closely with the Danish Authorities to ensure the best possible handling of the situation. During the entire period the company has been closely connected to well reputable foreign – and since the end of 2011 also Danish – kidnapping experts. The experts have throughout the duration of the kidnapping advised Shipcraft in these extremely difficult negotiations with the pirates.
‚ÄùThe kidnapping has been going on for more than two years. We are a very small company and the pirates‚Äô expectations to the ransom have been completely unrealistic‚Äù, informs Claus Bech.
‚ÄùWe have together with our advisors been fighting hard every day to find a solution. We are happy that the hard work all involved parties have done in order to have the crew set free, now have been rewarded with their release. We wish to thank our extern experts and the Danish Authorities for their help and assistance during these hard times‚Äù, says Claus Bech.
Considering possible future kidnapping situations Shipcraft cannot reveal the size of the ransom, but Shipcraft has paid considerable millions, substantially more than previous kidnappings where Danish citizens have been involved.
The Seamen need peace and quiet
Shipcraft now ask media to accept that the seamen will need peace and privacy with their families.
‚ÄùOf course we realize that the matter has great public interest, and we will keep the media informed about any news. This is now possible as publicity no longer can endanger the release of our crew. In return we hope that the media will respect that our colleagues now first and foremost need peace and privacy with their families‚Äù, informs Claus Bech.
Inquiries from the press can be directed to Managing Director Claus Bech via communications advisor Mads Lindberg on mail: email@example.com or phone: +45 2981 0290
TV Channel “TV2”, claims the kidnappers received between 30 and 40 million DKK (between 5.3 and 7 million USD) for the release, although the authorities have denied any involvement in the process.
“The Danish State do not negotiate with criminals or pay ransoms,” said Danish Foreign Minister Villy S√∏vndal.
Defense Minister Nick Haekkerup said Tuesday that Danish commandoes were sent to Somalia to pick up the hostages, but also declined to elaborate.
Following the kidnap of the crew, the ship was found dead in the water by the crew aboard a NATO Turkish forces patrolling the area.
During the time of captivity, several Danish media have criticized the actions of the authorities and the shipowner, who have a complaint filed against them by a union in Denmark of which one of the hostages is¬†a member.