COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A 31-year-old Nigerian man who was seriously injured during a gunfight last year with Danish troops on an anti-piracy mission off West Africa was Monday found guilty of endangering others by a Danish court.
However, the court ruled that the man, had his leg amputated, should be not be jailed because his role during the confrontation at sea was unclear.
On Nov. 25, 2021, the Danish frigate HDMS Esbern Snare was involved in a gun battle with nine suspected pirates whose boat sank. Four of the suspected pirates were killed and one presumably drowned. Four were captured.
A Danish Navy Seahawk helicopter took off from the frigate in response to information that a vessel with pirates was approaching several commercial ships in the Gulf of Guinea, off oil-rich Nigeria.
It reported seeing men with “equipment connected to piracy, including ladders” on the pirates' vessel. No Danish soldiers, who said they were acting in self-defense, were injured.
After the gunfire exchange, those still alive and the corpses were taken onboard Esbern Snare. Because the ship is Danish territory, a Copenhagen court ordered the four held in custody on the frigate, while authorities investigated the case.
Three were later released because the government in Copenhagen decided not to bring them to the Scandinavian country to face charges. They were placed on a dinghy off West Africa in international waters with enough food, fuel and water to reach land.
The Danes took care of the injured man who was first admitted to a Ghana hospital in December and his leg was amputated. For health and safety reasons it was impossible to leave him there or in the area, so he was transported on Jan. 6 to Denmark where he was charged with endangering others lives for the sake of profit.
On Monday, the Copenhagen District Court rejected his explanation that he didn't know he was taking part in an act of piracy. However, the court said that there were too many mitigating circumstances in relation to his role that it could not follow the prosecution’s request for prison sentence of up to 15 months.
The prosecution immediately appealed the ruling.
The Gulf of Guinea is one of the world’s most dangerous waterways with regular kidnappings. In 2019, the region accounted for more than 90 percent of global crew member abductions.