PARIS – Six Somali pirates captured after the rescue of hostages aboard a French luxury yacht arrived in Paris on Wednesday for eventual trial, police said.
The six were brought to France aboard a military plane and quickly placed in detention.
French troops caught the pirates April 11 in a land chase in Somalia. About half a dozen other pirates escaped.
The 30-member crew of the 288-foot Le Ponant, held for a week, was freed apparently in exchange for a ransom from the yacht's owners, widely reported by the French press to be about $2 million. French troops recovered sacks of money during the pirates' capture, France's chief of defense staff said.
The pirates arrived in Paris two days after the 22 French members of the crew returned home, greeted by President Nicolas Sarkozy who had taken personal charge of the crisis.
Crew members have said the armed pirates were not violent toward their hostages.
The crew was followed everywhere, including to the bathroom, and "everything aboard had to be negotiated," the daily Le Parisien quoted a crew member, identified as pastry chef Abder, as saying. The pirates killed time cleaning their weapons, Abder was quoted as saying.
For food, they brought four live goats aboard and slaughtered them on the luxury vessel, he was quoted as saying.
The pirates can be held for up to 96 hours for preliminary questioning. After that, they could be presented to judges who will decide whether to file preliminary charges against them and keep them in pretrial detention.
France wants to take the lead in battling piracy on the high seas. It plans to press for U.N. measures to fight pirate attacks in such dangerous zones as the Gulf of Aden, where the attack occurred.
Somali authorities granted speedy extraditions so the pirates could be brought to France. Paris was in contact with Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf throughout the crisis, and apprehended the pirates with the "full accord" of the Somali leader, the Foreign Ministry has said.
The French prosecutors office opened a preliminary inquiry Monday into possible charges of hijacking a vessel and taking hostages to seek a ransom and as part of an organized gang. Such charges carry maximum sentences of life in prison.