By JD, Somalia Report
Somali pirates have just released the Italian-flagged oil tanker MV Savina Caylyn for a ransom of $11.5 million, according to pirate sources. The 22 crew members, composed of 17 Indians and five Italians, had spent 11 months in captivity.
The ransom was delivered in two installments, with the first payment of $8.5 million dropped on board the vessel by helicopter early Wednesday, and a second package of $3 million arriving at 12:30pm (0930 GMT).
At 2:00pm (1100 GMT), the pirates finally released the vessel.
Once Bitten, Twice Shy
The atypical two-part ransom drop was a response to the pirates’ previous refusals to release Indian hostages, even after being paid a ransom. The trend began on April 15th, when pirates holding the MT Asphalt Venture declined to release the eight Indian members of the crew, hoping to use them as pawns in a prisoner exchange for pirates captured by the Indian navy. Since then, pirates have repeatedly refused to release Indian nationals, and have even gone so far as to declare their intention to “hunt” Indian seafarers.
The two-part drop was designed to avert another bad faith maneuverer on the part of the pirates.
“It was a tactic by the ship’s owners to make sure that the Indians were released,” explained a source in the pirate gang. “After they dropped the first $8.5 million by helicopter, they requested that we release the 17 Indians in small boats, and we agreed. After they had left, they dropped the other $3 million and we released the vessel and the five Italians.
The Italian-flagged MV Savina Caylyn had been hijacked on February 8th, 500 miles west of India. The pirate gang, which was based in the Harardheere area, was headed by Ilyaas, a well known pirate commander from the Murarsade sub-clan (a branch of the Hawiye).
© Somalia Report 2011. All rights reserved.