Send pirates clear messageThe Korea Coast Guard has been interrogating the Somali pirates who hijacked the Samho Jewelry in an attempt to find out exactly what happened.
But their findings so far don’t contain much new information.
Thirteen Somalians, including the five captured pirates, seized the ship in the Arabian Sea and took the crew hostage in an attempt to collect a ransom.
Korean naval commandos then stormed the ship and rescued the crew, killing eight pirates in the operation.
The only new discovery that came to light during the interrogations is that Seok Hae-kyun, the captain of the freighter, was hit by bullets fired not only from Somali pirates but also one from the Korean rescue squad as well.
The central focus of the investigation is to discover who actually ordered the hijacking, but it has not cleared up this issue. Authorities have also yet to find any connection between the attack on the Samho Jewelry and the earlier hijackings of the Samho Dream supertanker and the Geummi 305 trawler.
The pirates claimed that their leader was killed during the skirmish with Korean forces. They also assert that they had been sailing aimlessly for 25 days until they stumbled upon the Samho Jewelry, denying that they targeted the ship in advance.
Yet questions still linger. Samho Jewelry crewmen testified that the head of the pirate group boasted of his track record, saying he hijacked seven ships. He also said that one of the pirates helped seize the Samho Dream.
One of the pirates said, in broken English, that Korea perhaps paid too much to free the Samho Dream in November when it ponied up $9.5 million, indicating that Korean ships have become an attractive and lucrative target.
Somali piracy, it’s clear, has become an organized business network. Maritime sources believe that intelligence brokers are active in London, selling route information for cargo ships to Somali pirates.
The Samho Jewelry’s course, therefore, might have been leaked. It’s hard to imagine that pirates just randomly stumbled upon the ship in such a vast ocean expanse.
The investigation has now been handed over to prosecutors, who should utilize an international network to get to the bottom of the case. We must set a precedent on prosecuting pirates and send a clear signal around the world that Korea should not be messed with.