x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Hijacked crew family fear ransom is unpaid

A relative of one of the sailors on board the hijacked cargo ship MV Albedo is worried that a US$2.8million ransom may not have reached the pirates.

DUBAI // A relative of one of the sailors on board the hijacked cargo ship MV Albedo is worried that a US$2.8million ransom may not have reached the pirates.

Fathima Farhana, daughter of the ship's second engineer Mohammed Bisthamy, said she had recently been contacted by her father, one of the ship's crew, who said he was being tortured.

"We do not know what is happening as we are not getting any updates," said Ms Farhana, a schoolteacher in the Maldives.

"It has suddenly become silent. My father said they have not received the amount."

She said he was exhausted from his ordeal. "My dad said he is weak and cannot even stand anymore."

The cargo vessel was hijacked in November 2010 in the Gulf of Aden after leaving Jebel Ali for Kenya. Seven Pakistanis, seven Bangladeshi, six Sri Lankans, an Indian and an Iranian are being held by Somali pirates for the Dh10.2m ransom.

Two weeks ago, after several extensions to the pirates' deadline, it was announced that the ransom had been raised.

Half of the funds were raised by philanthropists, businessmen and relatives. The Malaysian-based ship owner, Omid Khosrojerdi, had also agreed to raise at least half of the ransom.

Ahmed Chinoy, the chairman of the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee in Karachi, which represented the relatives in negotiations with the pirates, had said the 22 crewmen were expected to reach Jebel Ali early next month.

But Ms Farhana said that when she spoke to her father he had not seemed hopeful of that. "He said it was unclear whether the money had been paid and he wanted to know about the progress."

aahmed@thenational.ae