Nine Somali pirates, captured on March 3 by the German navy, went on trial in Kenya's port town of Mombasa on Wednesday. The pirates were handed over to Kenyan authorities as part of an anti-piracy agreement between the EU and Nairobi.
AFP - The trial of nine Somalis captured by the German navy last month during the attempted hijacking of a German-owned cargo in the Gulf of Aden opened Tuesday in the Kenyan port of Mombasa.
The nine were captured by the German frigate on March 3 during an alleged pirate attack on the MV Courier and handed over to the Kenyan authorities as part of an anti-piracy agreement between Nairobi and the European Union.
The frigate dispatched a helicopter which together with another chopper from the US naval ship Monterey stopped the alleged attack by firing warning shots.
During the hearing in Mombasa, which was attended by German Ambassador to Kenya Walter Lindner, the US helicopter pilot recounted the intervention to magistrate Teresia Mwangi.
"We were on normal patrol conducting piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden when the distress call was sent via the VHF radio that MV Courier was under attack," he said.
The pirates lawyer, Jared Magolo, asked the prosecution to visit "the scene of crime," a request that was rejected by the court.
The hearing was adjourned until Thursday.
Several suspects among the group of nine have hired German lawyers and one of them, identified by German court documents as Ali Mohamed A.D., has filed a lawsuit against Germany over his "unlawful" transfer to Kenya.
Ransom-hunting Somali pirates have defied an increased international naval presence in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean and used favourable weather to step up their attacks, seizing at least 11 ships in April alone.
An unclear legal framework has led to confusion in the handling of captured pirate suspects. Kenya is the region's only state to have agreements with most major naval powers facilitating their arrest and transfer.
Date created : 2009-04-22