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Kenya denies paying ransom to free MV Faina

Thursday, February 12, 2009

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MOMBASA, Kenya, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government on Thursday denied paying any ransom for the release of the Ukrainian ship which was freed last week by Somali pirates after five months in captivity.

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua told a news conference that it was the owners of the ship who paid the ransom and not the Kenyan government.

"On the issue of ransom, Kenya will continue voicing its displeasure at the payment of ransom," Mutua told journalists in the coastal city of Mombasa minutes after the MV Faina which carried military hardware docked at the port.

"We would like to make it clear that Kenya had absolutely nothing to do with the negotiations or ransom payment for the release of the ship," he said, adding that this was done by the ship owner.

Mutua said that the government was happy to receive the military equipment it purchased adding that Kenya will continue buying such equipment from the friendly government such as Ukraine.

According to David Musila, Assistant Minister for Defense, the military equipment will be off-loaded from the ship starting on Friday.

The military equipment, he said, will be delivered by rail to the Kahawa Garrison before transportation to the Armor Brigade in Isiolo in northern Kenya.

"We shall invite the media to witness this process," Musila said, adding that this will convince those people that have doubted that the cargo was meant for Kenya.

The acting captain, Victor Nykolskyi who took over after the death of the captain two days after the hijack, said that the five months ordeal was very difficult for every crew member.

The Ukrainian government representative General Mykola Malomuzh said that his government has played a key role in the release of the ship. "We received assistance from the European Union and NATO allied forces," he said.

A new crew member flew in the country to take over the ship. The released crew members will be released after undergoing medical checkup.

The Ukrainian vessel is the second high-profile ship to be released by pirates this year.

In January, a Saudi oil tanker, the Sirius Star, was released after the hijackers reportedly received three million dollars as ransom.

Somali waters, considered to be among the most dangerous in the world, are now patrolled by a fleet of international naval warships which provide escorts to ships sailing along the coast.

Most attacks have been in the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and north Somalia, a major route leading to the Suez Canal linking Europe and Asia.

Source: IRIN, Feb 12, 2009


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