MOSCOW – The pirates seized by a Russian warship off the coast of Somalia have been released because of "imperfections" in international law, the Defense Ministry said Friday, a claim that sparked skepticism — and even suspicion the pirates might have been killed.
Authorities initially said the pirates would be brought to Russia to face criminal charges for hijacking a Russian oil tanker. But Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Alexei Kuznetsov told The Associated Press on Friday that the pirates had been released.
Kuznetsov declined to elaborate on the purported legal flaws that prompted the release and it was unclear how the seizure of the tanker might be legally different from last year's alleged hijacking of the Russian-crewed freighter Arctic Sea.
"Why should we feed some pirates?" he asked. He did not give specifics of the pirates' release, but the official news agency ITAR-Tass quoted a ministry source as saying they were "sent home," unarmed and without navigational devices, in the small boats they had used to approach the tanker.
The pirates hijacked the wrong ship. Don't mess with Mama Bear! I suspect the Russians sent the pirates to Davey Jones Locker... No way those dudes would just set them free.
(Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday had hinted at potential tough punishment for the pirates, saying "perhaps we should get back to the idea of establishing an international court and other legal tools" to prosecute pirates. "Until then, we'll have to do what our forefathers did when they met the pirates," he said.)
Our forefathers used to hang pirates, not turn them loose...