The 12 crew members, kidnapped from a Swiss merchant vessel in Nigerian waters in September, are now free, Swiss justice authorities have said.
The move came after the ship’s operator Massoel Shippingexternal link was able to negotiate with the pirates who had boarded the ship, the Canton Bexternal linkasel City public prosecutor’s office said on Sunday afternoonexternal link.external link The release took place on October 26 and all 12 have been taken to Switzerland to be interviewed, a statement said.
Basel justice authorities have started proceedings for kidnapping, illegal restraint and hostage taking. They are handling the case because the offences took place on a ship sailing under a Swiss flag and Basel is the home port of deep-sea vessels.
The Basel public prosecutor said that it could count on collaboration from the federal authorities as well other cantons. The freed crew members have been offered psychological support.
“The exact reconstruction of events is part of a criminal police investigation. The fugitive and unknown offenders are being searched for internationally, in cooperation with other authorities,” the statement continued.
The MV Glarus, which was carrying wheat, was travelling between the southwestern commercial capital Lagos and southern Niger Delta oil hub Port Harcourt when it was boarded by pirates, who took away 12 of the 19 crew members on September 22. None of the staff affected were Swiss.
Kidnapping for ransom is a common problem in parts of Nigeria. A number of foreigners have been kidnapped in the past few years in the southern Niger Delta region, source of most of the crude oil which is the mainstay of west Africa’s biggest economy.
Keystone-SDA/Basel justice authorities/swissinfo.ch/ilj