The pirates who released Judith Tebbutt are unlikely to face justice

British tourist Judith Tebbutt after being freed following more than six months in captivity Photo: PA

What will happen to Judith Tebbutt’s captors now that she is free? If they were pirates, recent history suggests that they may never face justice.

The pirates and bandits who roam the Indian Ocean appear to do so with near-impunity.

They are engaged in a lucrative business where a western captive can command a seven-figure ransom sum. And although the rewards are incredibly high, the risk of imprisonment, particularly in the country of their captive, is low.

A video message Judith Tebbutt sent to her family to assure them she was well.

Britain has recently indicated that it would consider bringing Somali pirates to the United Kingdom to go on trial and face jail there.

If pirates harm UK citizens, and theres enough evidence, we have not ruled out those pirates being taken for detention… Henry Bellingham, Africa Minister, told Reuters earlier this year.

But in reality, the UK, like many European countries, has appeared unwilling to prosecute captured pirates. It seems to prefer the idea of detainees facing justice in or near Somalia, but the country is so lawless that Somali justice is a fairly flimsy concept.

A tug boat which is one of the military vessels from the European Union patrolling against pirate activity in the Indian Ocean Credit: Reuters

One solution might be to deploy more patrol vessels to the Indian Ocean. But the fleet of foreign ships patrolling the seas off Somalia is already growing. And even when detained, most pirates are eventually freed.

The idea of building more ‘pirate courts’ and ‘pirate prisons’ in the Seychelles has global support.

Of course, the first challenge for the authorities will be to find Judith’s captors. A great deal is known about them: The hostage-takers spoke to several local people as they sailed into the luxury resort where she and her husband were staying.

And since then, the authorities have been able to gather a great deal of information about where she was held and some of the people involved.

Judith Tebbutt is led to a plane as she begins her journey home after being freed by pirates Credit: PA

But, as one Kenyan security source told ITV News: “…Although Scotland Yard have been out and collected a lot of evidence, the question is whether the authorities have the will to pursue this.”

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