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Georgian Captain Recounts Somali Hostage Ordeal: 'They Treated Us Mercilessly'

A Eurasianet partner post from <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/georgian_ship_olib_g_somali_pirates_ordeal…;

BATUMI, Georgia -- After nearly a year and a half at sea as a hostage held by Somali pirates, Memed Zakaradze is relieved to know his grandchildren in this Georgian port city still recognize him.

"They've grown up in my absence," the 63-year-old Zakaradze says ruefully. "But they still remember me."

In September 2010, Zakaradze was captaining a run-down tanker, the "Olib G," through the perilous Gulf of Aden when his ship was approached by a ship manned by armed Somali pirates.

"We called for patrolling ships," says Zakaradze. "But meanwhile, the vessel approached us and one of the pirates managed to come onboard our ship. As soon as he got on, he started shooting. The others followed suit. They gathered us together on the captain's deck. In five minutes, a military ship and a helicopter arrived, but it was too late already. Nothing could be done."

No Way Out

Held at gunpoint, Zakaradze and his crew members -- 14 Georgians and three Turks -- were forced to turn the "Olib G" around and drop anchor off the Somali coast.

To read the full story

A Eurasianet partner post from <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/georgian_ship_olib_g_somali_pirates_ordeal…;

Georgian Captain Recounts Somali Hostage Ordeal: 'They Treated Us Mercilessly'

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