Kenyan court convicts seven Somalis of piracy

by reuters | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 23 September 2010 17:50 GMT

MOMBASA, Sept 23 (Reuters) - A Kenyan court convicted seven Somalis on Thursday and sentenced them to five years in prison for hijacking a Spanish ship in 2009.

Somali pirates are making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms from seizing ships, including tankers and dry bulkers, in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.

The pirates were jailed by a magistrates' court in the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa where they were brought after their arrest in May last year.

Prosecution of captured pirates has been hampered by disagreements over which country should try them. Somalia itself lacks the legal infrastructure to hold trials.

The attacks on the Indian Ocean have made the shipping lanes linking Europe with Africa and Asia the most dangerous in the world, increasing the costs of global trade to ship owners and seafarers.

Foreign navies have boosted activities off the Gulf of Aden since 2009 and have operated convoys, as well as setting up a transit corridor across dangerous waters. But their forces have been stretched over the vast area, leaving ships vulnerable.

Kenya is concerned it will be lumbered with pirates released after serving sentences or those acquitted by local courts, and has warned of security concerns. About 15 pirates are serving jail terms in Kenya and about a hundred are in custody. (Reporting by Celestine Achieng; Writing by James Macharia; editing by David Stamp)

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