Danes release suspected pirates instead of trying at home

Three pirate suspects who were detained on a Danish warship after a deadly shootout near West Africa in November last year have been released because the preliminary charges for their attempted murder have been dropped

Copenhagen, Denmark – Three pirate suspects detained on a Danish warship after a deadly gun battle with the Danish Navy in West African waters have been released after the government decided that they did not want to take them to Denmark to accept preliminary charges of attempted murder.

Attorney General Nick Haekkerup said on Thursday: “We are not interested in bringing these people to Denmark,” adding that “they risk not being deported later.”

He said that the fourth pirate suspect injured in a gun battle with the Danish army has been treated in Denmark and will continue to face charges.

Foreign nationals convicted in Denmark are often deported after serving their sentences. But some people strive to stay, while others cannot be extradited because Denmark may not have an extradition agreement with their country. The nationality of the suspected pirate is not yet known.

Haekkerup said that he “unusually ordered the prosecution to notify three of the four pirate suspects that the charges against them will be dropped.” He said this was “a very unusual case”, adding that “They don’t belong here at all. That’s why I think this is the right thing to do.”

The Danish media stated that these people were put on a small boat in international waters with enough fuel, water and food to reach the land.

The fourth pirate suspect flew to Denmark on January 6, where he will face a detention hearing and “further prosecutions against him continue.”

In December last year, he was admitted to a hospital in Ghana for the first time while calling at the port. However, since it is impossible to keep him there or in the area, and it is unreasonable to release him at sea “for health and safety reasons”, the government stated that “it is necessary to bring the person to Denmark.”

The incident on November 24 involved the Danish frigate HDMS Esbern Snare, which was carrying out anti-piracy operations in West African waters.

It engaged in a firefight with a vessel that was reported to be close to several merchant ships near oil-rich Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea. It first dispatched a Seahawk helicopter and reportedly saw “pirate-related equipment, including ladders” on board.

After the gun battle ended, the ship sank. Four pirate suspects were killed and one missing, presumably drowned. The other four were taken to the Danish ship.

Later, because the ship was considered to be Danish territory, the Copenhagen court ordered the detention of the four persons while the authorities were investigating the case. In Denmark, the initial fee is one step less than the official fee.

The Gulf of Guinea is one of the most dangerous waterways in the world, and kidnappings are frequent. In 2019, this region accounted for more than 90% of global crew kidnapping incidents.