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Sailors Released After 16 Months in Pirate Captivity
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 8 Jan.'12 / 23:39

Fifteen Georgian crew members of a cargo ship have been released after 16 months in Somali pirates' captivity, the Georgian Maritime Transport Agency at the Ministry of Economy reported on Sunday evening.

The announcement on the agency's website gave no details about the release, or whether a ransom was paid.

It said that the Georgian sailors' health condition was "satisfactory" and that they were on board of a guarded ship "controlled by the Georgian government" and en route "to Africa's one of the safe ports."

”Liberation of the Georgian sailors, held in captivity by Somali pirates, ended successfully,” the Maritime Transport Agency said.

Malta-flagged cargo ship with 15 Georgians and three Turks onboard was pirated in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia on September 8, 2010.

OLIB G, owned by a Greek company, which reportedly went into liquidation early last year, and crewed by a Batumi-based Georgian maritime crewing agency Greenwich XXI, was pirated when it was en route from port of Alexandria to one of the ship breaking yards in India to be scrapped.

It emerged on January 7, that team of Georgian officials was sent to Somalia few days ago to facilitate release of the sailors. The team was led by Giorgi Karbelashvili, deputy minister of economy, and also involved officials from the Maritime Transport Agency.

The Somalia Report website reported, that all 18 crew members - fifteen Georgians and three Turks, as well as the cargo ship itself were freed by the pirates after receiving USD 3 million in ransom.  

The same news website reported in October, 2011 that pirates were demanding USD 9 million for the release of crew and the ship, which at the time reportedly was anchored off Harardheere, a town notorious for being a pirate stronghold in Somalia.

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