First European Jail Sentences for Somali Pirates

Sunday, June 20, 2010

It has been reported that the five Somali pirates recently tried by the Rotterdam courts for the failed hijack of the Sananyolu, have been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.

This could turn out to be a landmark case, since apparently the crew did not attend to give evidence in person but provided written testimony, and also since the pirates apparently threw their weapons over the side but evidence from the frigate’s crew that they had used them prevailed.

The pirates attacked the 3,254 dwt general cargo vessel, a Dutch Antilles flagged ship, in January last year. The pirates were intercepted by a Danish frigate and European warrants for their arrest were subsequently issued by the Netherlands. At trial, they alleged that they were simply fishing, despite evidence of using heavy weaponry against the vessel.

“INTERTANKO applauds this very positive step” said INTERTANKO Marine Director Capt Howard Snaith, “which indicates the willingness of a European nation to adhere to its obligations under international law to deliver justice to the pirates.”

It may also provide a good measure of the evidence required in order to secure prosecution and conviction. Implications can and will be drawn from the possession of rifles and grenades by those who allege they are just fishing in piracy infested waters.

“We therefore hope that this will lead to successful prosecutions becoming the norm for both actual and attempted hijackings,” concluded Snaith.

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