Somali pirates jailed for nine years for French yacht hijacking
A French court sentenced three Somali pirates to nine years in prison each for the 2009 hijacking of a French yacht that led to the death of its skipper.
The three pirates had asked for leniency, saying they were forced into piracy by lives of abject poverty. Prosecutors had called for jail terms of 10 to 12 years.
Prosecutor Brigitte Ernoult-Cabot rejected the pirates' claim that they had been coerced into their criminal business and said they had rather been motivated by "easy money".
French troops stormed the 12-metre sailing boat Tanit off the Somali coast in April 2009 and captured the trio during a bid to free Florent Lemacon, his wife, their three-year-old son and two crew members.
They killed two pirates but also accidentally shot dead Lemacon during the operation.
The three accused - Mohamed Mahamud, Abdelkader Osman Ali and Mahamud Abdi Mohamed, aged between 26 and 31 - had been on trial since Monday.
During the trial, the accused had said they turned to piracy out of desperation and expressed regret at their actions. "What they want is not even to live but just to survive," said one of their lawyers, Fabian Lahaie.
For his client, piracy "was a job as any other", he said.
A lawyer for the survivors, Arnaud Colon de Franciosi, said they were not looking for vengeance but that the accused should be "held responsible" for their acts.
The families have not criticised soldiers involved in the raid, but have accused the French government of authorising the "dangerous operation" without enough regard for the hostages.
The Lemacons had left the northern French port of Vannes in 2008 for a journey to Zanzibar. They were taken hostage on April 6, 2009, off the Somali coast.