Somali pirates face trial over 2011 fatal yacht hijacking

April 2016: Seven Somali men, accused of hijacking a French yacht in the Gulf of Aden, appeared in Paris court on Tuesday. The defendants are incriminated of killing the owner and kidnapping his wife, who survived the ordeal and was rescued by Spanish naval forces.

Published 8 years ago, updated 6 years ago

The suspects, 25- to 32-years-old, face possible life prison terms if convicted.

Christian and Eveline Colombo had undertaken an around-the-world trip. On September 3, 2011, they left the port of Aden in Yemen and were heading for Oman. On September 8, naval authorities received a distress signal from their catamaran, “Tribal Kat”.

A short while later, a German frigate patrolling the pirate-infested waters found the bullet-riddled yacht empty with blood on its decks. Two days later, a Spanish warship located the skiff believed to belong to the pirates. They tried to approach but turned away when the attackers dragged Evelyne Colombo into view, a gun to her head.

The Spanish military prepared a raid and attacked a few hours later, killing two suspected kidnappers and taking the others into custody. Evelyne Colombo told the rescuers that her husband’s body had been dumped into the sea. It was never found.

The seven surviving pirates have remained in French custody since the rescue. Their trial is expected to last two weeks.

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