By: EU NAVFOR Public Affairs Office
On Tuesday 7 August 2012 seven Somali men were found guilty by a Kenyan court of attempting to commit an act of piracy against a French fishing vessel, MV Captain St Vincent, off the Somali Coast in October 2009. Following the terrifying attack, the pirates, operating in 2 attack skiffs, were located by an EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) warship that was conducting counter-piracy patrols nearby.
After arriving at the scene, the boarding team from the warship detained the suspect pirates, and they were subsequently transferred to Kenya for trial. Based on what had been observed by counter piracy forces and reported by the crew from Captain St. Vincent, all of the suspect pirates were found guilty and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. They will serve their sentence in Kenyan jails.
According to the Associated Press a court in the Kenyan port town of Mombasa found the Somalis guilty of attacking a German naval supply ship in the Gulf of Aden on March 29 last year, said Jared Magolo, their lawyer. He said his clients plan to appeal the verdict made Monday.
“Even though we believe that the verdict was not very heavy, but the conviction was not proper,” said Magolo.
The “judgment marks an important step in the cooperation between EU and Kenya in the repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia,” said Maj. Gen. Buster Howes, the force’s operation commander.
Riding in a single skiff, the seven pirates opened fire on the FGS Spessart, a German Navy tanker, mistaking it for a commercial vessel. They were repelled by ship’s security and later captured by the German frigate FGS Rheinland-Pfalz. The pirates were handed over to Kenyan authorities in April last year.
Prior to this case, Kenyan courts had convicted 28 Somalis of piracy since 2006, when the first piracy case was concluded in the East African nation.
Somalia has been mired in anarchy and chaos since 1991, and the lawlessness has allowed piracy to thrive off its Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden coastlines. Somali pirates are able to make multimillion dollar ransoms from their hijackings.