Madrid: A court in Spain Tuesday sentenced two Somali men to jail terms of 439 years each for their role in the hijacking of a Spanish fishing trawler and its crew in October 2009.
The two, Abdou Willy and Raagegeesey Adji Hamanwere, were detained by Spanish marines as they left the captured trawler two days after the hijacking off the coast of Somalia and flown to Spain where they have been held in a Madrid jail.
Spain`s National Court found them guilty of 36 counts of illegal detention and robbery with violence but acquitted them of the charges of terrorism, membership in an organised crime group and torture.
Under Spanish law, the two will serve a maximum of 30 years in jail, regardless of the total sentence handed down by the court.
Public prosecutors had asked that the two be slapped with sentences of 438 years behind bars.
The court also ordered each of them to pay 100,000 euros to each of those detained.
During their trial, Willy and Hamanwere had said that they had been fishing in the area and were themselves seized by the pirates who them hijacked the Spanish fishing trawler.
The 36-member crew of the Alakrana, which included 16 Spanish nationals, spent 47 days in captivity before they were released.
The pirates who seized the boat said they received a ransom of $4.0 million (2.7 million euros).
The National Court said on Monday it "was not the boat`s owners but public organisations linked to the Spanish government who paid the amount for the release of the crew and the fishing boat."
But Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez denied that the government paid any ransom.
"I reiterate what was said at the time by the Prime Minister (Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero) and minister of defence (Carme Chacon)... The government did not pay ransom in the case of the Alakrana," she told reporters.
"Our priority was to protect the lives of the Spanish citizens. That`s what we got and for which we feel satisfied."