18 Jun 2010

Somali pirates jailed by Dutch court

Five Somali pirates were sentenced to five years in prison by a Dutch court today in Europe's first trial for piracy at sea in modern times. A judge in Rotterdam found the men, aged between 25 and 45, guilty on the 300-year-old charge of sea robbery for their part in a failed attempt to hijack a ship off the Somali coast.


Danish marines arrested the pirates after they approached the Samanyolu, a Dutch Antilles-flagged ship, in the Gulf of Aden in January 2009. The ship's Turkish crew destroyed the Somali boat with flares.

One of the pirates, 25-year-old Farah Ahmed Yusuf, claimed his boat was seeking help after suffering a mechanical failure during a shark fishing expedition. "The intention was to fish," he told the court. "As we came closer, we put our hands in the air. While we had our hands in the air, they shot at us. They attacked us."

The pirates were found to have been armed with automatic weapons and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

Prosecutors had argued for a seven-year sentence, but the court president, Jan Willem Klein Wolterink, sentencing, said he took into account the conditions in Somalia that had led the men to piracy.

Full story at The Guardian

Also see this:

Johann Hari: You are being lied to about pirates
Some are clearly just gangsters. But others are trying to stop illegal dumping and trawling (The Independent)