Pirates talking, but won’t say who shot captainPieces of the Samho Jewelry puzzle are slowly being put together as the five pirates captured on the hijacked ship in the Arabian Sea and brought to Korea were questioned by the Busan Coast Guard.
But the Coast Guard has yet to find out who shot Capt. Seok Hae-gyun and whether the pirates had specifically targeted a Korean ship as their prey.
The Busan Coast Guard team in charge of investigating the case said yesterday that the pirates were cooperating and slowly revealing what happened during the hijacking.
The names and occupations of the five men have been identified: Ali Abdullah, 21, ex-soldier; Arai Mahomed, 23, fisherman; Serum Abdullah, 21, cook; Ali Abukad-Aeman, 21, ex-soldier; and Brallat Aul, 19, student.
Under questioning on Sunday and yesterday by the Coast Guard team, the 13 pirates were found to have spent 15 days preparing for a strike on a vessel, and the five under investigation admitted to taking part in hijacking the Samho Jewelry with firearms, a small boat and ladders.
However, the police have been unable to determine who shot Captain Seok, who is in stable but critical condition in a Seoul hospital. The fisherman, Arai Mahomed, is suspected to be the shooter as he briefly admitted on Sunday that he had “shot the captain,” according to the investigative team.
But Mahomed changed his testimony when one of the other pirates accused him of shooting Seok.
“Yesterday we focused on basic details, like the identities of the men, but today we will start investigating them in earnest,” said a Busan Coast Guard official. The official was unable to answer if the men had known each other beforehand and whether they had planned to hijack the Samho Jewelry specifically because of the record $9.5 million (10.6 billion won) ransom paid to pirates that hijacked the Samho Dream last year.
The Busan Coast Guard is also asking if the detainees have any relation to the pirates who0 are currently holding the Korean trawler Geummi 305 off Kenya.
On Sunday, the Coast Guard found that two of the pirates had sustained injuries during the rescue of the Samho Jewelry by Korean soldiers. The pirates had been given medical checkups at their request after they had met with a court-appointed lawyer and were questioned briefly by the Coast Guard. The medical staff found that Serum Abdullah had a bullet in his right shoulder and Arai Mahomed had a scratch on the back of his left hand, for which he visited the hospital for treatment yesterday afternoon.
“Arai complained of pain in the back of his hand, and we decided that he should receive treatment,” said a Coast Guard officer. Serum Abdullah will undergo operation for the bullet wound after discussions with prosecutors.
By Christine Kim [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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