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Denmark extends detention of four captured pirates

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A Copenhagen court on Wednesday extended the detention of four suspected pirates arrested by a Danish navy ship after a shootout off the Nigerian coast, but bringing them to justice in Denmark still poses a legal challenge.

The men’s detention was extended for another four weeks, Birgitte Skjodt, one of their lawyers, said.

The four men — whose nationalities have not been made public — were arrested in November following a firefight with a Danish navy ship in the Gulf of Guinea.

Four other suspected pirates were killed in the skirmish, and a ninth is believed to have fallen overboard, according to the Danish authorities.

One of the four prisoners, who was injured in the shootout and has since had a leg amputated, has been transferred to a hospital in Ghana under the supervision of Ghanaian police.

The Danish navy has been patrolling the area since early November.

Denmark has never repatriated pirates to its soil and does not have an extradition agreement with any of the countries near where the incident took place.

According to the prosecutor’s office, the men opened fire first as the Danish navy approached and are being prosecuted for attacking the Danish soldiers, which they deny.

According to Skjodt, the men acted in self-defence, believing to be under attack in their small boat.

The Gulf of Guinea, which stretches 5,700 kilometres (3,500 miles) from Senegal to Angola, is a troubled area for shipping companies, with 195 attacks on ships recorded in 2020 alone.

In early December, six crew members of a container ship were kidnapped despite the intervention of a patrolling Danish frigate.

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