Saudi ship owner paid pirates $2.6m
14 May 2013, 18:14
Algiers - The Saudi owner of an Algerian cargo ship whose
crew were held by Somali pirates for 10 months admitted paying $2.6m to free
them in November 2011, an Algerian paper reported on Tuesday.
The MV Blida, carrying 17 Algerians, six Ukrainians, two
Filipinos, one Jordanian and one Indonesian, was captured by a gang of heavily
armed pirates on January 1 2011, on its way from Oman to Tanzania.
Two of hostages were released for health reasons in October
that year, with the rest freed the following month when a bag full of cash was
parachuted from a plane.
"The pirates demanded a ransom of $2.6m to free the
sailors and the ship. The Algerian government refused to negotiate or pay a
ransom," owner Ghaith Rashad Feraoun told Arabic daily Ennahar.
"I thought of the sailors. I had no interest in freeing
the bulk carrier and cement on board, as it was 100 percent insured and the
insurance companies were going to reimburse me," he said.
"I negotiated through a man called Abu Ali or Abu
Ahmed. After agreeing with the pirates on the amount, I paid a one off payment
"I withdrew the money from Lebanon, because it's the
only country where you can get that amount without encountering obstacles,"
"We took a small plane and threw the money onto the
ship," he said, adding that "Algeria didn't pay a single dinar."
Algeria has a policy of not negotiating with hostage-takers
and has asked the UN General Assembly to criminalise ransom payments to
When the MV Blida's crew were released, the foreign ministry
confirmed that Algiers had not provided any money to free them.
After the ordeal, some crew members told AFP that they
suffered "psychological torture", enduring death threats and being
deprived of food and clean drinking water as they watched their Somali captors