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Six Somali 'pirates' charged with kidnapping

world Updated: Sep 26, 2008 08:58 IST

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Six Somalis suspected of taking a French couple hostage aboard a yacht earlier this month were charged with hijacking and hostage-taking in a Paris court, judicial sources said.

They were also charged with armed robbery by judges Baudoin Thouvenot and Patrick Gachon, they said yesterday, adding that the six had all admitted to their role in the affair during questioning.

Their testimony was corroborated by the couple who were on the yacht which was on its way to France from Australia.

The suspected pirates were captured off the Somali coast and flown to France after French special forces stormed aboard the Carre d'As yacht on September 15 to rescue its crew, a French couple. A seventh suspect was killed.

The six were immediately detained on their arrival Tuesday.

The charges carry life sentences and are the same as those brought against six more Somalis captured in April in an earlier raid by French commandos to release the crew of a French-owned luxury cruise yacht.

A legal official said the gang had demanded two million dollars (1.36 million euros) for the safe return of the Carre d'As and its crew, Jean-Yves Delanne et his wife Bernadette, both aged 60, but that no talks had been entered into before the commando raid.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has vowed to get tough with the gangs who prey on shipping in the waters off east Africa's most troubled state.

He has called for the creation of an international naval patrol to protect shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden and escort humanitarian aid to Somalia.