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Somali pirates nabbed trying to attack French Navy - by accident

By Matthew ClarkStaff writer / May 3, 2009

The French navy frigate, Nivose, with 11 captured Somali pirates on board, is seen docked in front of the German navy frigate Rheinland-Pfalz at the port of Mombasa, Kenya, on Apr. 22.

Joseph Okangaa/Reuters

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In a move that may well earn them a spot on one of those "world's dumbest criminals" lists circulating online, Somali pirates mistook a French naval ship for a commercial vessel on Sunday and tried to attack it, according to a Reuters report.

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Whoops.

It didn't take long for the French to correct this case of mistaken identity: They seized 11 suspected pirates 600 miles off the coast of Somalia.

The Nivose, which last month captured 11 presumed pirates off the coast of Kenya, is part of the European Union's operation to protect shipping in the area.

The question of jurisdiction

So, what will the French do with the bumbling brigands?
"For the moment we don't have any indication of what the European Union forces want to do with these pirates," said the spokesman.

Pirates captured by a Canadian NATO ship last month were immediately released, because they could not be tried under Canadian law. Other captured pirates have been sent for trial in Kenya or to Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland, or to France.

And, in probably the most highly publicized case, a suspected pirate brought from the Indian Ocean to New York City for his alleged role in attacking a US-flagged ship and holding it hostage last month will escape hanging. That's right, Abduwali Muse will not face death by rope, reports Bloomberg.

In a fit of modern-day leniency, US authorities decided life in prison would be punishment enough if Muse is convicted of piracy.

Some pirate success

Other pirates this weekend did a better job of identifying their targets.

On Saturday a Greek-owned ship with a Ukrainian crew was hijacked by Somali pirates south-west of the Seychelles.

Another group of pirates said they captured a Pakistani-owned ship full of goods destined for Somali traders on Sunday, reports Agence France-Presse.

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