France charges Somali 'pirates'

Other News Materials 19 April 2008 04:12 (UTC +04:00)

(BBC News) - A Paris court has charged six Somalis with taking a French luxury yacht's crew hostage off Africa this month, officials say.

The six were flown to Paris after being detained on Friday by French commandos in a helicopter raid, soon after the 30 hostages were released.

The hostages - 22 French citizens, six Filipinos, a Cameroonian and a Ukrainian - were seized a week earlier.

No passengers were aboard the Ponant at the time of the abduction.

This will be the first trial of its kind in France, says the BBC's Alasdair Sandford.

A senior legal source said Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed had given his consent for the suspects to be taken out of the country.

French authorities are said to consider the matter a criminal one rather than one linked to terrorism.

Police specialising in organised crime are to investigate the case. They are also expected to question the crew members who were flown to Paris earlier this week.

The yacht's 30-member crew was released after its owners apparently paid a ransom of $2m (£1m; 1.3m euros).