Yacht in 'pirate' raid goes missing

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THE FAMILY of a Briton who was allegedly murdered at sea by pirates demanded to know the whereabouts of the boat he was on. Alan MacLean, who was 28, was shot when five pirates boarded the yacht in the Indian Ocean off Somalia on 11 September.

His parents, Neil and Dorothy, from Aberdeen, are unconvinced about the reasons given for his death on the French-registered vessel.

The French authorities have agreed to allow an inquiry, which is to be held in Montpellier. The MacLean family said they wanted the French to take steps to locate the yacht, the Correlation.

It was allowed to leave Aden, in Yemen, where Mr MacLean's death was reported to the British consul-general by the French skipper, Philippe Sorel. It is not expected in Port-St Louis-du-Rhone until next month and the French do not seem to know where it is, Neil MacLean said. "This is not acceptable ... given that the French released the boat in the first place. They now find themselves in the embarrassing position where they appear to have lost the boat altogether."

After the death was reported, Mr Sorel phoned Neil MacLean to plead his innocence. He said Alan was his best friend and that he died after trying to defend himself with a didgeridoo.

But the MacLean family said his comments raised more questions than they answered. Mr Sorel said that after the pirates boarded he and the other crew member locked themselves in the hold. He had to bury Alan at sea because of the heat. He reported the attack five days after the killing.

Neil MacLean, who was in the Royal Navy, said he had seen pirates at work and had never known them to leave witnesses. He found it strange that the other two people on board the boat, the skipper and a woman, had been left alive and apparently uninjured.

Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, expressed concern about the case and Interpol has been involved. Britain later formally asked the French government to launch an investigation.