EU NAVFOR said it welcomed the first judgment yesterday in a Kenyan prosecution in connection with the interdiction of a pirate group by an EU NAVFOR warship. The conviction involved seven Somali men accused of acts of piracy. The presiding Chief Magistrate, the Hon Rosemelle Mutoka CM, delivered the verdict at the Mombasa Law Courts on 6 September, sentencing the seven Somali men accused to prison sentences of five years as from the judgement date.
The conviction relates to the attack on the FGS Spessart, a Rhoen – class tanker of the German Navy, on 29 March 2009. The attack by seven men aboard a single pirate skiff was repelled by the onboard security detail. The skiff was then tracked through the combined efforts of three multinational taskforces and finally apprehended by the German frigate FGS Rheinland-Pfalz, operating as part of EU NAVFOR.
EU NAVFOR has to date transferred 9 groups of suspected pirates comprising 75 individuals to the Kenyan authorities for prosecution in the Kenyan national courts.
Prosecutions are conducted by Kenyan prosecutors under Kenyan Law before a single magistrate. EU NAVFOR officers work closely with Kenyan prosecutors with regard to the preparation of the prosecution case.
The maximum sentence upon conviction for piracy offences in Kenya is life imprisonment; under Kenyan Law – and indeed as a precondition for suspected pirates being transferred by EU NAVFOR – capital punishment is not available. Cases are conducted in English, however, a Somali language interpreter is present at all proceedings. In all cases the accused persons have had the benefit of legal representation.