Posted by jfb on December 27th, 2009 | 0 comments
This next story is a little more interesting than most. It illustrates the fog of war surrounding most of these piracy stories, and the politics going on in the background. Let’s start with the story as it’s generally reported:
A Spanish trawler captain released by Somali pirates said he is haunted by his failure to save a 12-year-old Ukrainian girl held captive for more than six months, a newspaper reported Sunday.
Ricardo Blach, skipper of the Alakrana, which was freed Tuesday after being held by pirates for some six weeks, told how he saw the young girl aboard another hijacked ship, in logbook extracts published in El Mundo.
A little strange that the BBC story never mentions the kidnapped girl, but not too unusual for someone to miss part of the story, especially if they have to read another language to source it. If you don’t want to read both of those, here’s what the wikipedia has to say about it:
Somali pirates captured the Ariana on May 2 with its 24 Ukrainian crew in the Indian Ocean on route from Brazil to the Middle East. In November, with the release of Spanish ship Alakrana, that was in contact during captivity with the Ariana to give fuel, was known that within this vessel are kidnapped two women and a girl of 12 years old. One of the abducted women, Larisa Salinska, 39 years old ship’s cook, was raped by pirates. Then she had a miscarriage (it is unknown if she became pregnant as a result of the rape or not) with a large hemorrhage, heavy infection, and serious health problems. The Alakrana’s skipper tried to convey to the Ariana medicines to help Salinska, but Adan Jama, one of the pirates who had hijacked the Spanish ship, threw overboard those medicines. Also, according to the testimony from the driver’s Alakrana, on board were two women, one of whom had given birth during the hijacking of the ship, having the baby about four months; also said the girl wich twelve years old was raped by a pirate very young. The ship was released on 10 December 2009 after a ransom of almost $3,000,000 was paid.
This already has a few elements that are unique to this particular story. Now along comes this article in an online paper from Salem, OR:
tl;dr version: the miscarriage resulted when the woman was beaten by a fellow crew member, the captain refused to let her be evacuated although the pirates agreed, the crew of the Alakrana “invented” the story of visiting the Ariana, the 12-year old girl is implied to have been invented as well, and the Ariana‘s owner has cut the ship loose and doesn’t want the cargo inspected.
This article’s conclusion:
All this is believed now to be part of spin-doctoring between Ukrainian, Spanish and Greek politicians of ministerial level to distract from their own failures and to aid a stronger European military approach for which the misled public outcry over these atrocities was seen as necessary to be approved by the European ministerial conference.
And to obscure matters even more, the author of this article relies on an interview in the Kyiv Post, a couple of quotes from Ecoterra International, and a number of unattributed statements such as the one above: “all this is now believed to be….”
The author herself has a name that sounds a lot like a pseudonym to me, and the google has never heard of her outside of reporting on this ship. The Salem News looks like an interesting paper to check out, but it all seems to be filtered pretty strongly through the publisher’s personality and opinions.
Now, I don’t trust the official press to get a story right, but that doesn’t mean I have to trust any alternate version of the story either. I’m drawing no conclusions and taking no sides, just demonstrating an excellent case of how we really don’t know anything that’s going on out there. I don’t know if we’ll ever get answers about this one, or how many other stories really turn out to be more or less than they seem.