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Three Somali pirates charged over attack on French yacht

Latest update : 2009-04-17

Three Somali pirates captured by French commandos in a hostage rescue operation in the Gulf of Aden have been charged in France with hijacking and false imprisonment. They face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Three Somali pirates brought to France after they were captured by commandos in a hostage rescue operation in the Indian Ocean were charged Friday with hijacking and false imprisonment.

The trio, aged 23 to 27, have been detained pending trial in three separate jails in the western French city of Rennes, the local state prosecutor's office said in a statement. They face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

French special forces captured the three on April 10 when they stormed the yacht Tanit to rescue its French crew from hostage takers. Two pirates and the boat's French captain were killed during the rescue.

French authorities have said it is not clear whether 28-year-old Florent Lemacon was shot dead accidentally by French forces or executed by his captors.

Officials said Friday that a post-mortem had not enabled them to determine how he died.

Four other hostages, including Lemacon's three-year-old son, were rescued unharmed, just days before a similar American operation to free a cargo ship's captain.

The French navy has handed over the bodies of the two pirates killed during the assault to authorities in Somalia's Puntland region.

France is holding 12 other pirates captured by its forces in the waters off East Africa, the scene of a rash of recent shipping attacks.

Date created : 2009-04-17