KUALA LUMPUR: Eleven Indonesian pirates have been jailed for 16 years each for attempting to hijack an oil tanker off the coast of Malaysia, an official said on Thursday.
The pirates tried to hijack the Thai-flagged tanker, which was carrying seven million ringgit ($1.7 million) worth of diesel, off the coast of Terengganu state on peninsular Malaysia in early September.
They succeeded in boarding the vessel but Malaysian coastguard commandos rushed to the vessel’s last known location by helicopter after it disappeared off tracking systems.
The commandos descended by rope onto the vessel, and managed to detain the pirates. Fourteen Thai sailors on the tanker were unharmed.
A Malaysian court on Wednesday jailed the ten pirates who seized the tanker, and an 11th who masterminded the failed operation from land, said prosecutor Nurul Farahah Mohamad Suah.
Seven of the pirates who were aged below 50 were also sentenced to five strokes of the cane, she said.
Nurul told Agence France-Presse authorities wanted to send “a clear message that we do not tolerate piracy.”
“The pirates, who were armed with machetes, planned the robbery and targeted helpless seafarers,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zulkifli Abu Bakar, director-general of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, hailed the court decision as a “good deterrent.”
A report by the International Maritime Bureau said there were three attacks by pirates in Malaysian waters in the first half of this year.