[youtubevid id=”2lXNbXR8qAc”]Somali pirates hijack a Russian oil tanker. Russian marines storm tanker and capture pirates (see video). Pirates are supposedly released on to a boat that sets out on a course for Somalia. But that was 10 days ago, and no one has seen those pirates since.
Russia initially said that it would take the pirates to Moscow for trial. But Moscow now says that it placed the pirates in an inflatable boat with food and water – but no navigation aids and in the middle of the Indian Ocean, about 160 miles from the Somali coast.
Is Russia guilty of incompetence or indifference to human life? Or is this a taste of summary justice, a modern version of walking the plank, although walking the plank would probably have been more merciful than dying of exposure on a raft. You decide.
This is a case where the mind says that it’s wrong and futile to execute Somali pirates, who come from so impoverished and violent a land that more violence isn’t likely to deter them.
Yet the heart wonders whether a little rough justice is appropriate for those who hijack merchant ships for ransom. Will it serve as a deterrent for piracy? Let’s put it this way. There’s a story from Lebanon during the 1980s, when Hezbollah had a practice of kidnapping Westerners. One day, they kidnapped four Soviet diplomats, killed one, and kept the other three as hostages. The KGB promptly went out and grabbed the son of a Hezbollah leader, castrated him, stuffed his testicles in his mouth, and sent him back to Hezbollah with a message that there would be more of the same unless the diplomats were released. They were. And while Americans and Britons languished for years in captivity, Hezbollah never bothered the Soviets again.