Teenagers from Guinea, Ivory Coast charged in Malta for hijacking ship

Maltese law considers hijacking of oil tanker as a terrorist activity and under such legal system three teenage migrants from Guinea and Ivory Coast have been charged and could face jail term of up to 30 years if found guilty.

One of the teens is 19-year-old Abdalla Bari from Guinea. The remaining two are minors and cannot be identified. They are 15-year-old and 16-year-old from Guinea and Ivory Coast respectively. All the three have denied the charges.

Abdalla said to the court he was studying sociology before leaving his country while the two minors are found to be students of secondary school.

The three were among 108 refugees and asylum seekers who were rescued by El Hiblu 1 lately. Accused of seizing control of the tanker they appeared at a court in capital city Valletta.

According to ship captain Nader el-Hiblu said a military aircraft, unsure whether of Malta or Italy, flying above alerted him on Tuesday afternoon about a boat carrying people needed help.

The next day the people realized ship was heading to Libya from where they had just left, and revolted forcing the captain to head to Europe.

Maltese law considers hijacking of oil tanker as a terrorist activity

He added that the hijackers were desperate and attacked cockpit. They banged doors, windows and threatened to smash the boat.

Hiblu called port in Libya informing ship was hijacked and heading north towards Europe. A day later Maltese special operations unit boarded the ship and detained five suspects.

Paul Linus