Three Somali pirates on trial for the 2009 hijacking of a French yacht, which lead to skipper’s death

Three men from Somalia went on trial on Monday for the 2009 hijacking of a French yacht, which resulted in a rescue operation by elite forces and the death of the yacht’s skipper.

The victims had been headed for Zanzibar from the French port of Vannes when their yacht was boarded by the Somali pirates on 4 April, 2009.

French forces stormed the Tanit sailboat six days later in an attempt to free Florent Lemacon, his wife, their three-year-old son and two others.

Three men were captured during the operation, which saw two pirates, and Mr Lemacon shot dead.

It is believed the skipper was caught in cross fire between French commandos and the Somali pirates.

Lemacon’s widow’s lawyer, Arnaud Colon de Franciosi, said that the family was “traumatised and shocked but at the same time wanted justice”.

On the first day of the trial in Rennes, the young defendants claimed a life of poverty led them into piracy.

One said he lost his livelihood after the 2004 tsunami destroyed fishing boats and depleted fish stocks in his coastal community.

Another said he began struggling in 2005, when a severe famine killed most of his livestock.

Several years later in 2009, pirates helped them out, giving them clothes and drugs, and then $100 to get a ‘job’ done, they said.

Armed with rifles, they went to sea with two others and attempted to hijack a cargo ship.

After they failed, they resorted to storming the Tanit, a 42ft sailboat.

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