Swiss open investigation into Nigerian pirate kidnappings

ShipBasel’s public prosecutor has opened an investigation into the case of a Swiss-registered ship hijacked off the coast of Nigeria in September. Ransom negotiations with the attackers, who kidnapped 12 crew members, are ongoing.

Though none of the hostages are of Swiss nationality, the fact that the MV Glarus is registered with a Swiss company (Massoel Shipping in Geneva) warranted the opening of a Swiss enquiry, the SonntagsBlick newspaper reported on Sunday.

Indeed, due to the flag being flown, the kidnappings must be investigated as if they had taken place in Switzerland, the Keystone-SDA news agency explained.

Police spokesman René Gsell, contacted by the agency, did not give further details on the progress so far, nor about the hostages, who include seven Filipinos, a Croatian, a Bosnian, a Slovenian, a Ukrainian, and a Romanian.

Massoel Shipping told the SonntagsBlick that the crew members were doing as well as could be expected, given the conditions. The newspaper also reported that negotiations were ongoing in Nigeria as to their release; the attackers, purportedly from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), are demanding ransoms.

The ship was attacked on September 22 last while on route from Lagos to Port Harcourt with a cargo of cereal. It was boarded by the pirates some 45 nautical miles southwest of Bonny Island.

Due to the non-involvement of Swiss citizens, the SonntagsBlick reports, the Swiss foreign affairs ministry providing neither consular assistance nor financial aid.