Bob: 25 Dec 2009 Original article by Tristan McConnell
British couple, Paul & Rachel Chandler seized by pirates exactly two months ago face a Christmas with their Somali captors after it appeared that their call for the British Government to get them “out by Christmas”, had fallen on deaf ears.
Paul Chandler, 58, and his wife Rachel, 55, were captured by pirates who crept on board their yacht, the “Lynn Rival”, close to the Seychelles in October.
The couple, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, have been held close to Haradheere in Somalia and moved between safe houses to prevent their capture by other gangs or Islamist insurgents.
Mohamed Shakir, a pirate commander, told The Times yesterday: “We will never deny them
their Christmas.” He said that although the pirates were Muslim they would not prevent
the Chandlers from praying or marking the Christian holiday.
“We respect their liberty, their life [sic] and their religion because no religion allows
violation against another one,” he said. “We will prepare their favourite food if they want
to eat for the occasion. Their food may [be] the one called ‘chips and tomato’ and Italian
pasta and [some] type of fish and beer and other orders they have made.
“I think all their orders will not be available but we shall try to make them happy with
their Christmas in captivity.”
The Royal Navy was criticised for failing to rescue the Chandlers when an opportunity arose
soon after they were kidnapped.
The gang initially demanded a $7 million (£4 million) ransom.Reports suggested that the
couple’s release was almost secured last month for $100,000 until the Government allegedly
blocked the deal because it went against a policy on negotiating with kidnappers.
In their last telephone conversation with the media in November Mr Chandler begged the
British Government to secure their release by Christmas.
The gang said that negotiations were slow and that “nothing tangible” was going on now.
“It’s true that they are not celebrating with their people this Christmas but we hope they
[will be able to] do that the next year,” said Mohd Shakir.