Seven Somali pirates were sentenced to between six and 15 years in prison by a French court on Wednesday for the hijacking of a French yacht and killing of its owner in the Gulf of Aden in 2011.
Christian and Evelyne Colombo were on a round-the-world trip when their “Tribal Kat" catamaran was hijacked by pirates in the Arabian Sea.
Christian was killed and his body dumped in the water, while his wife was held hostage for 48 hours before being rescued by the Spanish military.
Two members of the gang identified as the “recruiters", Farhan Abdisalamn Hassan and Ahmed Abdullahi Akid, were handed 15-year sentences.
Farhan Mohamoud Abchir, a minor at the time of the hijacking who has developed schizophrenia while in prison, according to his lawyer, was given a six-year jail term.
Before the sentence was read out, the Somalis asked for “forgiveness" for a crime they said haunted them “every day".
The Colombos had sold everything before embarking on a dream round-the-world trip.
They left the Yemen port of Aden in early September 2011 and were heading for Oman — a journey that took them through notoriously pirate-infested waters — when naval authorities received a distress signal from their “Tribal Kat" catamaran.
A German frigate found the boat several hours later. There were bullet holes in the deck and a pair of glasses lying in a pool of blood. No one was on-board.
Two days later, a Spanish warship located the skiff believed to belong to the pirates. They tried to approach but turned away when the attackers dragged Evelyne Colombo into view, a gun to her head.
The Spanish military prepared a raid and attacked a few hours later, leaving two pirates dead and the remaining seven under arrest.
Mrs Colombo told her rescuers that her husband’s body had been dumped into the sea. It was never found.
She had spent 48 hours with the pirates, kept under a tarpaulin, drenched by waves and in constant fear of death.
The defence team sought to present the seven Somalis as unwilling criminals forced into piracy by the hardship of life in Somalia, French media reports.