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Defense lawyers argued that the Danish sailors who rescued the ship were unable to testify. But the judge cited testimony from the ship’s crew that the pirates had approached in a threatening manner, moving up swiftly from behind the freighter.

In written testimony, crewmen said they used flares to hold off the attackers, who sped their skiff toward the Samanyulo firing automatic weapons and at least one round from a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

Danish marines who flew over the pirates’ skiff in a helicopter said after the incident they saw no weapons on board but that the skiff was carrying a ladder with hooks used for boarding ships. The helicopter pilot said there was no doubt it was an act of piracy.

After the Danish helicopter fired warning shots at the skiff, the pirates jumped overboard. All five were picked up by a Danish navy boat. They were later handed to Dutch authorities for trial because the Samanyulo was sailing under a Dutch Antilles flag.