Denmark has reached an agreement with the Seychelles to prosecute four pirates held on board a Danish warship, Denmark's foreign ministry said.
A total 16 suspected pirates were detained by the warship Absalon, which is part of a NATO-led anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden, following an action on a pirate mother ship off the coast of Somalia on April 11.
"I am very glad that Denmark was able to put 16 pirates out of action and that with the current agreement with Seychelles, we are fortunate to ensure that four of the ringleaders will now be prosecuted," Danish Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal said in a statement on Sunday.
The agreement marks the second time that the Seychelles has agreed to prosecute suspected pirates detained by Danish warships.
"With the transfer to the Seychelles, we have shown again that Denmark and the international community's efforts in the Horn of Africa do work and do make a significant difference," Soevndal said.
The transfer of the four suspects took place on Sunday, while the remaining 12 are still detained on board the Absalon. The Danish authorities will determine if they too can be prosecuted in another country in the region.
Nine Pakistani and three Iranian seamen held hostage on the Iranian-registered vessel, which had been captured and used as a pirate mother ship, were released following the April 11 action and have headed home.
According to Danish broadcaster TV2, Danish warships had captured a total of 280 pirates, of whom 37 faced prosecution, as of early April this year.
Danish authorities routinely investigate whether it is possible to take legal actions against suspected, captured pirates who are believed to have taken part in hijackings and hostage takings.
However, evidence is not always available and there are difficulties in finding countries willing to conduct the prosecution on their territories, which means many suspected pirates go free.
Without a functional government since 1991, Somalia has become a haven for pirates who are believed to make millions of dollars by capturing and ransoming commercial and private ships and crews.
There are currently two Danish seamen who have been held hostage by Somali pirates for over a year.
The shipping industry and world governments spend around 7 billion U.S. dollars annually to avoid, combat, or mitigate Somali piracy in the Indian Ocean, the U.S.-based One Earth Foundation said in a report earlier February.