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Issue 495 -- 23rd - 29th July 2011
No Owner, No Cargo And No Hope Of Ransom: Pirates Urged To Show Mercy
MV OLIB G Story
Last year the chemical tanker “MV OLIB G” set out on her final voyage to India to be scrapped. But the vessel and the 18-strong crew never made it to their final destination.
On the 8th September, 2010, the Maltese flagged tanker was hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. Little did the pirates know that unlike so many hijackings which fuel their lucrative business off the coast of Africa, the “MV OLIB G” had no potential for a negotiated ransom settlement.
The tanker was under the management of Athens-based Frio Ventures S.A., a company forced into liquidation in February of this year and unable to front a ransom for the vessel’s release.
For ten months the families of the 15 Georgian and 3 Turkish seafarers still being held by the pirates have been distraught, with reports their loved ones are being tortured and starved to death and with no way to pay a ransom.
Athens-based charity “Sea Welfare” has taken the reigns of negotiations but pirates have so far rejected the offered sums collected through charitable donations which pale in comparison to the millions of dollars merchant vessels are expected to fetch in the pirate trade.
“The Pirates holding the MV OLIB G have taken an abandoned ship with no owner, no insurance and no value – they have in effect hijacked the wrong vessel….the Pirates have told us that they have heard this story many times before….but the problem for all of us is, this time - it is true”, a spokesperson for the charity said.
The pirates are shrewd but this time they haven’t done their homework and the captives are suffering for it according to Bakhar Gelashvili, a former colleague of one of the hijacked crew members.
“These Pirates are asking for money that the families will never have. They should have gone for a ship where there was some hope of a ransom payment”, he said.
Considering the lifting of militant Al Shabaab’s aid ban and the current international effort to provide humanitarian aid in war and drought-ravaged Somalia, the families of the hijacked men are pleading for an act of compassion from the pirates.
“Our sons and husbands are innocent, like the Somali people, and we ask the Pirates, Al-Shabaab and all Somalia to show humanity in the name of God,” Kakhaberidze Nazibrola, wife of the ships Master, said.
More than 400 seafarers are currently being held by pirates including seven crew members from the vessel Asphalt Venture who remain in captivity despite the fact that a ransom was paid in good faith for their release.
With such practices the pirates have jeopardized their entire business model and weakened their credibility in negotiations. They are now being encouraged to restore faith and release the innocent seafarers being held.