US Judge releases Former Somaliland Official

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Judge Ellen Huvelle“Why should I keep him locked up for another year so you can litigate a principle?”- Judge Huvelle

Virginia — A former Somaliland official being tried for piracy charges has been released from custody and confined to his home while the government is pursuing an appeal.

According to Frederic J. Frommer an AP reporter, who broke the story, he reported that Ali Mohamed Ali’s trial had been adjourned after prosecutors failed to provide sufficient evidence in the pretrial hearing.

The US District Judge Ellen Huvelle, scolded prosecutors who had indicted Mr. Ali on four charges and failed to provide what Judge Huvelle called a “smoking gun”.

Instead of holding Mr. Ali in jail while prosecutors came up with evidence, the Judge ordered Mr. Ali to house arrest who will wear a monitoring bracelet.

“Why should I keep him locked up for another year so you can litigate a principle?” said Judge Huvelle according to the AP report.

Mr. Ali a former Director of Somaliland’s Ministry of Education had been charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit piracy; piracy under the law of nations; conspiracy to commit hostage taking; and hostage taking, for what prosecutors are saying was his involvement in negotiating a ransom for a Danish vessel captured by Somali pirates in 2008.

At last week’s trial Judge Huvelle indicated that her decision would be to release Mr. Ali until the prosecutors had come up with a solid case, even advising prosecutors to not pursue a case that is not winnable.

“That’s not what a criminal case is about. You should not be prosecuting a case that you cannot win. It is an outrage,” said Judge Huvelle.

Mr. Ali will be held to confinement in his home where according to the judge will only allowed to meet with his lawyer and go to Friday prayers.

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