Freed Georgian Captives on Their Way to Homeland
12 January, 2012
Freed Georgian Captives on Their Way to Homeland

“It was a hell of a torture. We’ve been chained for eight months”


“There was not a single day when I would not think about this problem. We were nervous because we faced the deadlock repeatedly. There are hostages from the EU countries also

Our friends were telling us to abandon futile efforts as it was just beyond our scale to free these people. Nevertheless we were sticking to our hopes, never ceasing to seek a way out. I used to

make all types of decrees and send our representatives there many times. Another problem was our inability to publicly talk about the situation. We would hear a lot of criticism addressed to us. But we could not reveal our ongoing efforts because everything could instantly go down the drains. The Georgian Authorities will fight for every Georgian citizen to the end. As the Government and as the State, we do not have any greater ambition and more important task than this,” – said Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

 


According to various sources, the ransom money paid by the insurance company was somewhere between 1 and 3 million dollars. However, the official story of the Georgian side depicts a different picture too. The press service of the Georgian Marine Transportation Agency categorically denies that the Georgian side paid anything for the release of the Georgian hostages but give no details about terms of release. At the time of the release, Georgian delegation was visiting Somali. It was headed by Giorgi Karbelashvili, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development.


The crew of the tanker which was sailing under the Maltese flag consisted of 15 Georgian and 3 Turkish sailors. They were captured by Somali pirates on 8 October, 2010 in the Aden passage. The captors demanded several millions in ransom from the Greek company which owned the ship. But the company refused to pay the ransom. Accordingly, the negotiations arrived to the deadlock. In October, 2011 the Somali pirates released the video footage depicting how hostages are appealing for help.
Murman Dumbadze, Chair of the public movement “Serve Georgia” says that a few weeks ago insurance companies which work in the shipping sector met in London and collected a huge sum to resolve the hostage standoff. In addition, active steps of the Greek Government and Turkish Prime-Minister Erdoghan moved the matter out of the deadlock. When the companies managed to collect 1 million Dollars, they called Georgian Foreign Ministry telling them that the Georgian citizens would soon be freed. They asked the Ministry at least to send its representatives for the finalization of few formal questions.


According to the Georgian Marine Transportation Agency, by now the health of the Georgian sailors is satisfactory. In parallel, migration-related procedures are underway for returning the former hostages to their homeland. Giorgi Karbelashvili, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development claims that from the first days of the sailors’ captivity, the Georgian President was personally in control of the situation. It was a priority for him. He said that at various time points many international organizations, ship owners and governments of various countries were involved in the attempts to free the hostages. Karbelashvili said that six months ago there was an option of military operation but the state did not choose it as the lives of the sailors were in jeopardy.
The Turkish Media reports that the happy end of the story was made possible after the Danish Royal Navy destroyed a large marine military base of Somali pirates last December and captured Somali pirates who actively cooperated with the investigation. All these cheered up the sailors.


Political union “Salome Zurabishvili – Georgian way” demands that the Georgian Authorities disclose details of how the Georgian sailors were freed. Family members of the freed 15 Georgian sailors met Levan Varshalomidze, leader of Achara Autonomous Republic. The mother of one of the sailors said to the Palitra TV that parents of the sailors were summoned by Levan Varshalomidze personally and informed about the release of their loved ones.
“We were kept in inhumane conditions. It was a hell of a torture accompanied with hunger, thirst, beating. We were chained for eight months. Now we are fine. We are on board of a ship protected by the guards,” – says the ship captain Memed Zakariadze.
Right now the Georgian seamen are in the Indian Ocean heading for one of the African sea ports.


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