Africa

Pirate ringleader faces execution in Somalia

The captain of the MV QSM Dubai was killed as Puntland soldiers stormed the hijacked ship
Image caption The captain of the MV QSM Dubai was killed as Puntland soldiers stormed the hijacked ship

A pirate ringleader has been sentenced to death by a court in the breakaway Somali state of Puntland.

Salah Mohamed Gelle faces execution for murdering Sayid Jacfar, the Pakistani skipper of hijacked cargo ship the MV QSM Dubai, in early June.

Seven other pirates who took part in the assault were sentenced to jail terms of between 10 and 17 years.

Some were also ordered to pay fines of about $2,000 (£1,260) by the court in Bossasso, Puntland's business capital.

"Salah Mohamed Gelle, the first defendant was found guilty of killing the captain Sayid Jacfar and therefore was sentenced to execution," said Mohamed Yusuf, the presiding judge, according to AFP news agency.

No surrender

Pirates seized the 15,000-tonne Panama-flagged ship in the Gulf of Aden in the early hours of 2 June.

It was sailing from Brazil in the "internationally recommended transit corridor" in the Gulf when it was seized.

The vessel had a crew of 24 made up of Ghanaian, Egyptian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals.

When soldiers from Puntland stormed the ship, the pirates refused to surrender and killed Mr Jacfar.

Puntland, which declared itself an autonomous state within Somalia in 1998, has been used by pirates as a base for their operations.