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7 pirates arrested by Eunavfor sentenced in Kenya

(photo credit: Bundeswehr Navy)

(BRUSSELS2) Seven Somali pirates were sentenced on 6 September by Judge Rosemelle Mutoka of the Court of Mombasa, to 5 years in prison.

The pirates attacked the FGS Spessart, a German navy tanker taking part in the European anti-piracy operation, EUNavfor Atalanta, on March 29, 2009 and were apprehended by the frigate FGS Rheinland-Pfalz, after a raid -pursuit involving several elements (1).

Germany did not want to directly judge the pirates even though a preliminary investigation had been opened at the Kiel Public Prosecutor's Office in Germany. The trial in Kenya lasted many months, with the suspects' lawyers having multiple hearings (2). But considering the judgment times in Western countries, we can neither consider that this delay is long nor consider that the procedure was expeditious. Suspects pleading not guilty (3). The penalty applied is relatively modest compared to the maximum penalty for acts of piracy in Kenya = life imprisonment, the death penalty not being applicable in these cases (this is part of the agreements between the EU and the Kenya).

This is the first judgment concerning suspects arrested by European forces and transmitted to the Kenyan authorities. Ten pirates arrested by American forces were sentenced to seven years in prison in May 2009 (4). “This is an important step for cooperation between the EU and Kenya in suppressing acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia” commented Major General Buster Howes, Commander of Operation Atalanta.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(1)  Fatal error: pirates attack a ship… from Atalanta!
(2) The trial of the SPS Spessart hackers continues 1
(3) The trial of the SPS Spessart hackers continues 2
(4) Piracy: a judgment that could set precedent in Kenya

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).