25 Nov 2008

Pirate, captain say hijacked oil tanker crew unharmed

10:11 am on 25 November 2008

The captain of the Saudi Arabian oil tanker hijacked by Somali pirates says he and his crew are all safe.

Speaking to the BBC by phone, under the scrutiny of his captors, the Sirius Star's Polish captain Marek Nishky said his 25-member crew were in good shape, and had been allowed to talk to their families.

One of the Somali pirates, calling himself Daybad, said they have no intention of harming the crew members on board.

Daybad spoke to the BBC Somali Service via telephone from the ship which is being held off the Somali coast.

"They are fine. We are treating them according to the charter of how you treat prisoners of war," he said.

"They are allowed to contact their families. The crew are not prisoners, they can move from place to place, wherever they want to, they can even sleep on their usual beds and they have their own keys."


The pirates have reduced their ransom demand to $US15 million, an Islamist leader and regional maritime group both said on Monday.

The pirate gang had originally been quoted as wanting $US25 million to release the Sirius Star and its $US100 million oil cargo captured about 450 nautical miles southeast of Kenya on 15 November.

But Islamist spokesman Abdirahim Isse Adow, whose men are in the Haradheere area where the ship is being held offshore, said the demand went down. "Middlemen have given a $US15 million ransom figure for the Saudi ship. That is the issue now," he said.

However, the pirate on board the ship, Daybad, told the BBC that "no company" had yet made contact with the hijackers, only people claiming to be intermediaries.

"These are people who cannot be trusted. We don't want to make contact with anyone who we can't trust," he said.