Twenty Somalis suspected of being the pirates who were involved in the kidnapping of two South African cruising sailors have been arrested by the Dutch Navy, and are now being held on a supply ship pending further investigations.
Long time cruising sailors Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz were crewing for fellow South African Peter Eldridge on his boat SY Coizil, when they were kidnapped off the coast of Tanzania on October 26. Nothing has been heard of them since, but skipper Eldridge, who had refused to disembark from his yacht, was rescued by a Dutch warship after jumping into the water.
'Thirteen suspected pirates were arrested on Friday and seven suspected pirates yesterday,' said Wim de Bruin, a spokesman for the Dutch prosecution told reporters.
'After the arrest, the prosecutor asked that they be officially placed in detention because there are strong indications these people were involved in the attack on the South African yacht' and the kidnapping of two South Africans, he said.
The two groups were travelling in speedboats and threw their weapons into the water before being arrested, said Marloes Visser, a spokesman for the defence ministry.
'We will try to see if the two groups were part of a single group,' he said.
Dutch police travelled to the area on Wednesday for a more detailed investigation, and the pirates were being held on a supply ship, the Amsterdam, De Bruin said. The Amsterdam operates in the Gulf of Aden as part of NATO's Ocean Shield mission against Somali pirates.
A court in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam jailed five Somali pirates in June over an attack on a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden, the first conviction of its kind in Europe, and a federal jury in Virginia this week convicted 5 Somali men for piracy for the first time in a U.S. court since 1820. They had mistakenly attacked a US Warship thinking it was a merchant ship.