Seychelles president welcomes return of piracy hostages


VICTORIA, Seychelles (eTN) – President James Michel has praised the seven Seychellois men who were held hostage by Somali pirates for their courage and heroism during the 80 days they were held captive.

President Michel together with the families of the men, as well as members of the Hostages Negotiation Team, met the seven men at Seychelles International Airport yesterday morning, following the arrival of their special flight from Kenya.

“We welcome you home with unbelievable joy and gratitude. We welcome you with tears of happiness and we rejoice in seeing you safe back on Seychelles soil! You have been so brave and resilient while you waited for your release. We did everything to make sure you would come home safe and sound, and now we all, as a nation united, celebrate your happy return,” President Michel told Captain Francis Roucou and his crew.

Francis Roucou, George Bijoux, Patrick Dyer, Robin Songoire, Georges Guichard, Robert Naiken, Stephen Stravens appeared relieved and happy to be in the arms of their loved ones.

The ship Indian Ocean Explorer was seized by Somali pirates between March 28 to 31 this year while it was traveling from Assumption island. The seven Seychellois onboard were taken to mainland Somalia, where their captors started negotiations with Seychellois authorities for their release.

According to the government, its Hostages Negotiation Team, headed by Environment, Natural Resources and Transport Minister Joel Morgan, had reached a deal this week. The seven Seychellois were then taken by the Somali pirates to Kenya, where they were boarded on a Seychelles government plane, for their return to Mahé island.

The government has confirmed that it has not paid any form of ransom to the pirates.