Months of negotiations concluded with the Somali captors of the Malaysian vessel MV Albedo, and its 22 crew members including seven Pakistanis, and $2.85 million in ‘expenses’ will be paid in exchange for the release of hostages.
CPLC chief Ahmed Chinoy, who is currently in Dubai, finalised the amount to be paid, which is being termed ‘reimbursement of maintenance and other expenses.’
“We are against ransom money and we are not paying them any kind of ransom. We have negotiated on money that they have spent on the hostages during the last sixteen months,” Chinoy told The Express Tribune.
He added that the decision to reimburse expenses to secure the release of the crew was taken after talks with Somali tribal leaders.
Differentiating between ransom and expenses, CPLC chief said the pirates’ demands for ransom had been denied for months.
Chinoy said the expenses include money spent on food, medication, the off-loading and unloading of the hostages, while the ransom would have been a significantly larger amount.
According to sources, Pakistan will raise between $1.64 and $1.7 million, while the rest will be paid by Malaysia. No other country has so far shown interest in helping out with the payment.
Chinoy claimed to be in touch with officials from other countries and said he will be meeting businessmen in Dubai to raise the amount.
Meanwhile, a full-fledged fund raising campaign by the hostages’ families will be launched by next week.
While the European Union recently green-lighted the use of military force to safeguard vessels against pirates and rescue hostages, Chinoy ruled out any military action claiming it could endanger the lives of the crew.
The MV Albedo was captured by pirates on November 26, 2010, roughly 440km west of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean while it was en route to Mombasa, Kenya.
Along with the seven Pakistanis, its crew comprised six Sri Lankans, seven Bengalis, an Indian and an Iranian. The vessel is currently being held 50km off Somalia’s coast.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2012.
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