Arrested pirates confirmed as Indonesian nationals

Kuala Lumpur, June 26 (IANS) The eight pirates who confessed to hijacking a Malaysian oil tanker earlier this month were identified as Indonesian nationals, officials said.

The tanker, “MT Orkim Harmony”, went missing on June 12 after leaving Malacca on Malaysia’s west coast for Kuantan on the east coast. It was carrying 6,000 tonnes of fuel worth $5.6 million.

The suspects were identified by a team of officials from the Indonesian consulate general in Ho Chi Minh City and the Indonesian embassy in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi, the Jakarta Post reported on Friday.

The Indonesian foreign ministry dispatched the identification team after media quoted Malaysian Navy chief Admiral Abdul Aziz Jaafar as saying that the hijackers spoke with Indonesian accents.

“On June 24, a team was able to ascertain that the hijackers were indeed Indonesians,” Indonesian Ambassador to Vietnam Mayerfas said at a press briefing.

Mayerfas said the team did identity checks and document verification of the men to determine their nationalities.

Of 22 people on board, 16 were Malaysian nationals, five were Indonesians and one was a Myanmar citizen.

All 22 were safe but the tanker’s cook was shot in the thigh.

The pirates were arrested near the Vietnamese archipelago of Tho Chu on June 19, hours after they fled from the hijacked tanker.

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