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Dutch ask Danes to extradite “their” pirates

(B2)It could be the second EU country to want to try pirates. After the French (in April and October), the Dutch Minister of Justice has, in fact, officially agreed with his Danish counterpart, on the sidelines of the informal meeting of Ministers of Justice in Prague, to be able to extradite the pirates currently detained on the Danish warship Absalon – which has just completed its mission at the head of CTF 150 (*).

On January 2, the crew of the Samanyulo – a cargo ship flying the flag of the Netherlands Antilles – had managed to foil – with the help of the Danish warship Absalon – an attack. THE Samanyulo had sent flares against the pirate ship which was pursuing him while the Danish helicopter, dispatched to the site, sent warning shots. The pirate ship caught fire, the pirates jumped overboard, then were rescued by theAbsalom and taken into custody.

A catch which posed – once again – a problem for the Danes who cannot bring pirates caught on the high seas to justice under their national law. Even if the ministers agreed on the principle of extradition (**) , last Thursday, there are still several details to be resolved between the Dutch prosecutor and his Danish counterparts. The pirates may therefore not go directly to the Netherlands but may have to transit through Copenhagen. But according to what law and what charge?

In any case, this “transmission” is felt as an event in the Netherlands. No one has ever been tried for piracy, according to our colleagues from Dutch radio. For the first time, article 381 of the penal code – which provides for up to 12 years in prison for the captain of the pirate ship and 9 years for the crew members – could thus be implemented. Dutch jurisdiction is justified, according to Wim de Bruin, spokesperson for the Public Prosecutor's Office, because “the vessel was sailing under the flag of the Netherlands Antilles. "

But a trial being a trial. It is not said that the crew of the attacked boat could not also be… charged: for firing the flares and failing to provide assistance. By firing rockets which set the boat on fire, the Dutch judge will have to determine whether this firing does not constitute an “excessive use of violence” in the context of self-defense. He will also have to examine whether there was no obligation for the Samanyulo to help people who have gone into the water.


    (*) Denmark does not participate in Defense Europe and therefore not in the EU operation, Atalanta, but in operation CTF 150, the force of which it led until January 13. Denmark has ordered a total of – according to the Absalon press officer – 39 ships from different countries: United States, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Germany, France and Denmark. Units from the Saudi fleet were also made available to Task Force 150.
    (**) Denmark does not (either) participate in criminal cooperation. As a result, instead of the “European arrest warrant” which accelerated the procedures, we must resort to the extradition procedure, longer and more complex, which passes through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).