Russia: Freed Pirates Probably Dead
Pirates never made land after being released in inflatable boat
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2010 12:54 AM CDT
Forces from the Russian anti-submarine ship Marshal Shaposhnikov freed a hijacked Russian oil tanker last week.   (AP Photo, file)

(Newser) – A group of Somali pirates seized by Russian forces and then freed never made it to land and are probably dead, according to Russian authorities. The pirates, captured after the Russian navy freed a hijacked oil tanker last week, were released hundreds of miles from shore in an inflatable boat with no navigational equipment, the Wall Street Journal reports. A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman says radio signals from the boat vanished an hour afterwards.

Somali pirate commanders have threatened to harm any Russian citizens they find aboard hijacked ships in revenge for the Russian operation. Russia says it freed the pirates because of "imperfections" in international law, although many in the Russian media speculate that they were killed instead of freed. The lack of an international court to try pirates means "we'll have to do what our forefathers did when they met the pirates ," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said before Russian forces stormed the tanker.