EU NAVFOR welcomed the second judgement, which was delivered Thursday 23 September, 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 Magistrate, the Hon Ole Tanchu, delivered the verdict at the Mombasa Law Courts on 23 September, sentencing the seven Somali men accused to prison sentences of five years.
The conviction relates to the attack on the Merchant Vessel Anny Petrakis on 7 May 2009. The Master of the Vessel called for help and a Spanish warship, the Marques de la Ensenda, operating in the area under the command of EU NAVFOR, was able to intervene. The warship sent its helicopter to the scene to repel the pirates. They only surrendered when the helicopter fired several warning shots. The pirates were subsequently apprehended and transferred to Kenya for prosecution.
EU NAVFOR has to date transferred nine groups of suspected pirates comprising 75 individuals to the Kenyan authorities for prosecution in the Kenyan national courts. Earlier this month, the first of the nine cases was concluded when the Chief Magistrate sentenced another seven men to five years imprisonment.
October and November are expected to be busy months for the Kenyan courts with a variety hearings being held in the other seven ongoing cases including a final judgement in one of them.
Prosecutions are conducted by Kenyan prosecutors under Kenyan Law before a single magistrate. EU NAVFOR officers work closely with Kenyan prosecutors and the local police 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. In all cases the accused persons have had the benefit of legal representation.