Somali teenager gets five to nine for piracy
An 18-year-old Somali was sentenced Monday to five to nine years by the Tokyo District Court for boarding and attempting to hijack a Bahama-registered oil tanker off the east coast of Africa in March 2011.
The defendant, whose name has been withheld because he is a minor, is one of four Somalis to face trial in Japan under a 2009 antipiracy law. The series of trials is being heard by three professional judges and six citizens under the lay judge system.
The 18-year-old admitted to participating in the assault on the tanker operated by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. but said he only aided the other three men.
But presiding Judge Katsunori Ono ruled Monday that he was a full accomplice, and that because he was the only one who could speak English he was supposed to play a large role in the hijacking by communicating with the hostages.
“This case was a typical act of Somali piracy that was organized and planned, as (the defendants) aimed to take the crew hostage to gain a massive amount of ransom money . . . and even though it ultimately failed, they should be punished severely, given the dangerous and malicious aspects of the piracy,” Ono said.
The prosecution had demanded an indeterminate sentence of five to 10 years in prison in accordance with the juvenile law. The Somali’s lawyers had sought a suspended sentence. Ono said he hesitated to hand down the maximum penalty because of several factors, including that the defendant was believed to be only 16 years old at the time of the attack and that he had grown up in a country torn by an ongoing civil war.
After the ruling, some of the lay judges told reporters they were at first confused about why Japan was holding these trials but later understood their importance from the viewpoint of international cooperation. They also expressed difficulty in trying a case involving a minor.
“There are many different types of juvenile crimes, but I wondered if limiting the prison term in accordance with the current juvenile law in general was right . . . whether it is correct not to be able to hand down a longer prison term just because the defendant is a minor,” said lay judge No. 1, a 39-year-old woman.
Mohamed Urgus Adeysey and Abdinur Hussain Ali, the two Somalis who went on trial first, were each sentenced to 10 years earlier this month. Adeysey and Ali, who gave their ages as 23 and 38, have appealed to the Tokyo High Court. The final defendant, also a minor at the time of the hijacking attempt, is set to stand trial next week.
The Somalis are accused of trying and failing to hijack the 57,462-ton Guanabara on March 5, 2011, with the intention of holding the 24-member crew for ransom. The crew escaped harm by locking themselves in a special safe compartment.
2. UAE court upholds sentences for Somali pirates
The Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal Court on Monday upheld the sentences of 10 Somali pirates convicted of highjacking a UAE-owned bulk-carrier ship. In April 2011, the men reportedly commandeered the MV Arrilah-1 as it hauled aluminum in the Arabian Sea en route to Dubai from Australia. The pirates allegedly used small-arms and explosives to lay siege to the vessel for 30 hours until UAE special forces raided the ship and apprehended the pirates with support from the air force and the US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet. The Abu Dhabi Federal Criminal Court of First Instance charged the men with highjacking and sentenced them to life in prison in May. The court also ordered that all arms and ammunition used in the highjacking be confiscated and held that the pirates would be deported after serving their sentences, which equate to 25 years for each defendant. The appellate court accepted the appeal in form and rejected it on the merits [WAM report] on Monday.
Maritime piracy remains an issue of global concern. In December the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that Somalia’s territorial waters extend no more than 12 miles from shore, concluding that the US has jurisdiction to prosecute a band of pirates accused of murdering four Americans in 2011. In November the UN Security Council condemned piracy and acts of armed robbery against vessels off the coast of Somalia. The UN Security Council urged the international community to develop a comprehensive response to discourage these acts. In October the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court of Hamburg sentenced 10 Somalis involved in hijacking a German freighter off the coast of Somalia in 2010. Also in October, an appeals court in Kenya concluded that Kenyan courts have jurisdiction to try international piracy suspects. Also that month six accused Somali pirates went on trial in a Paris court in connection with the 2008 hijacking of the cruise ship Le Ponant in the Gulf of Aden. In July the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau reported that the number of global pirate attacks fell sharply in the first half of 2012
WADA SHAQAYN WACAN.