Tags: somali | pirate | belgium | arrest

Somali Pirate: Belgium Officials Arrest Influential Kingpin

Image: Somali Pirate: Belgium Officials Arrest Influential Kingpin

Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013 02:02 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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The Somali pirate chief Mohamed Abdi Hassan was arrested in Belgium on Monday by authorities who told him he was coming there for a documentary being made about his life.

Nicknamed "Afweyne" or "Big Mouth," Hassan faces charges of kidnapping, piracy, and organized crime, with his accomplice Mohamed Aden "Tiiceey," a prosecutor told Agence France-Presse. 

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The charges stem from a 2009 case where pirates captured a Belgian ship, the Pompei, which was held off the Somali coast for about 70 days.

The Pompei was captured by dozens of pirates 700 miles off Somalia in the Indian Ocean, according to Agence France-Presse.

The nine original Pompei crew members, which included two Belgian officers and a Dutch captain, were held until a ransom was dropped by parachute.

The United Nations has described Hassan as one of the most influential leaders in Somali's piracy enterprise. He earned a fortune attacking ships for ransom from 2008 to 2013, but he announced his retirement from piracy in Mogadishu in January. Hassan said he tried to persuade other pirates to quit as well.

"Too often, these people remain beyond reach while they let others do the dirty work," prosecutor Johan Delmulle told reporters, according to The Daily Mail.

Malaysian authorities captured the Hassan in April 2012 but a document from the Somali transitional government allowed him to return to Somalia.

Belgian authorities knew that an international arrest warrant would not likely be served in the largely lawless Somalia.

Belgian prosecutors declined to discuss details about the fake documentary they told Hassan he would be in, but they said getting Hassan's accomplice Aden to believe he would be an adviser for the fake movie was key.

The two Somalis will appear in court Tuesday.

The 2009 capture of the American vessel Alabama Maersk by pirates and its rescue by U.S. Navy Seals is now a subject of a motion picture, "Captain Phillips," featuring Oscar-winner Tom Hanks. The movie has earned $25 million domestically after its first week in the box office.

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