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25 May 2012

INTERPOL assistance leads to first extradition from Seychelles of suspected maritime pirate

LYON, France – A Somali man suspected of maritime piracy has been extradited from the Seychelles to Belgium after a cross-check of his fingerprints against INTERPOL’s databases linked the suspect with the hijack of Belgian vessel MV Pompei in waters off the Seychelles in April 2009.

The Belgian judicial authorities had requested the suspect’s extradition based on forensic evidence establishing the presence of the individual during the hijacking of the ship on 18 April 2009 when its 10 crew members from Belgium, Croatia, the Netherlands and the Philippines were taken hostage by 12 pirates.

Immediately after the release of the hijacked vessel on 28 June 2011, Belgian Federal Police conducted an extensive forensic crime scene investigation of the vessel and its results were added to INTERPOL’s maritime piracy and fingerprints databases.

On 26 March 2011, following the arrest of six Somali nationals in territorial waters off the Seychelles, its police then provided INTERPOL with the fingerprints of the individuals to be cross checked with INTERPOL’s databases within the framework of INTERPOL’s Project EVEXI. The check revealed that the prints of one of the apprehended individuals matched latent marks seized on the hijacked Belgian vessel.

Project EVEXI aims to establish procedures for building the capacity of six East African countries (Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Oman, the Seychelles and Tanzania) in maritime piracy intelligence gathering and forensic evidence collection.

“This case marks a major success in the cross border fight against maritime piracy and represents a blueprint for international cooperation with INTERPOL in the fight against maritime piracy and its networks,” said the Head of INTERPOL’s Maritime Piracy Task Force, Pierre St. Hilaire.

“International police cooperation with INTERPOL can lead to major outcomes in the international fight against maritime piracy using cross continental information exchange.”

“We congratulate authorities in the Seychelles and Belgium since this extradition was only made possible by their actions and outstanding cooperation with INTERPOL,” added Mr St Hilaire.

Hassan M.O. now faces judicial prosecution in a Belgian court.