The members of the crew of a luxury yacht who were abducted by pirates and held for ransom for one week off the Somali coast arrived in Paris late Monday. ( dpa )
French President Nicolas Sarkozy was at Orly Airport south of Paris to greet the 30 crew members, 22 of whom are French, who were taken hostage on April 4 in the Gulf of Aden by a group of armed men.
Their yacht, Le Ponant, was then anchored off the Somali coast, just south of the autonomous region of Puntland. The hostages were freed one week later after the payment of an unspecified ransom.
Part of the ransom was recovered and six of the pirates were captured by a unit of an elite French force in a daring action carried out shortly after the hostages were freed.
The French government has denied reports that a number of the pirates or civilian bystanders were killed in the mission, as had been reported by witnesses.
The six captured pirates were being held on a French naval vessel, but their future remained uncertain. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that the details of an agreement with Somalia, on whose territory the six were captured, were uncertain.
"At present, the pirates are aboard a French vessel but they are not heading for France," he said.