A Nigerian piracy suspect has told a Danish court he was only in a dinghy fired on by marines because he wanted to experience the open sea.

The 40-year-old had a leg amputated following the November 2021 incident in the Gulf of Guinea involving the Danish frigate Esbern Snare.

He has now appeared at Copenhagen District Court, pleading not guilty to endangering life.

The suspect, who has not been named, denies that he and the other men in the boat were pirates, according to national broadcaster DR.

He claimed they were on their way out to sea to find a tanker that had to be guided to the coast with an oil cargo.

Four men were killed in the gun battle, and three others were later released by Danish authorities.

The defendant admitted that he had helped to steal the oil from pipelines in Nigeria and he said he had been promised $7,000 to be involved.

“I had heard others talk about how big the ocean is and that it has no end. I would like to experience that,” he told the court through his interpreter.

When the suspect was brought before a constitutional hearing in January, he was charged with attempted murder, but the prosecution later accepted he did not fire a shot.

He claimed in court that the Danish forces opened fire first.

Who fired first?

The Danish Navy said it had become suspicious of the boat and had fired warning shots.

The frigate was then shot at by the men on the boat.

“We try to get away, but they follow and shoot at us. I can’t stand the shooting, so I jump off the boat,” the suspect told the court.

His leg was hit by the propeller of the engine, leading to the amputation.

A verdict in the case is expected on Friday.

Last July, it was reported that a Togolese court had convicted nine men of piracy following an attack on a tanker in May 2019. One of the pirates was sentenced to 15 years in prison, while six were each sentenced to 12 years.