x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Freed sailors 'have seen horrific things'

Pakistani crewmen were 'treated inhumanely' by pirates and will need counselling to recover.

DUBAI // The seven Pakistani sailors who were freed on Thursday after being held and tortured by Somali pirates aboard the MV Albedo for 21 months will require counselling and medical help, says lead negotiator Ahmed Chinoy.

After the Pakistani families raised part of the US$2.85 million (Dh4m) ransom demanded by the pirates, three officers - including the captain, Jawaid Khan, and chief officer, Mohammad Mujtaba - were taken ashore.

"For two months and five days they kept shifting us," said Mr Mujtaba, who believes that the constant movement was prompted by fears they would be caught by Somalia's Al Shabbab rebels.

"Every few days they would wake us up at midnight or 1am and tell us it was time to move. They were scared of Al Shabbab. We walked for hours in the dark in the jungle, it was a difficult time."

The men were allowed to go home after Mr Chinoy, the chairman of the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee in Karachi, delivered a ransom of US$1.1 million (Dh4m) to the pirates. Fifteen other sailors remain in captivity.

"They were treated inhumanely and were under constant pressure," Mr Chinoy said. "It will take psychiatric counselling sessions for them to recover from the trauma."

The MV Albedo was en route from Kenya to Jebel Ali port when it was captured in November 2010.

Speaking yesterday from Pakistan, the sailors recounted how they were tortured, kept in isolation in shipping containers and denied food.

"They have seen horrific things. You can see this in their faces and hear it in their voices and feel it in their behaviour," said Mr Chinoy. "To live under the constant threat that the pirates would start killing them one by one is an unimaginable horror."