MOMBASA Kenya Aug 8 A Kenyan court sentenced
seven Somalis to 20 years in jail for piracy on Wednesday, a
boost to international efforts to drive out pirates from the
waters off the Horn of Africa nation.
Despite the presence of several foreign navies off the coast
of Somalia, pirates have continued to seize vessels and to rake
in millions of dollars in ransom payments, driving up the cost
of shipping insurance.
The seven were captured by Danish naval forces after they
attempted to hijack a Sri Lankan fishing trawler off the Gulf of
Aden. They were handed over to Kenyan authorities, who have held
them since October 2009.
In her ruling, Magistrate Joyce Gandani said piracy had been
on the increase, and the long jail sentence should serve as a
deterrent to others.
"The acts of piracy have adversely affected the security and
the trade of not only our country, but the entire region," she
Barre Ali Farah, Abdi Mohammed, Ali Hussein Hassan,
Abdulkarim Nur Shire, Bashir Mohammed Ehmi, Abdulrazak Abdullahi
Ali and Abdulfaruk Hussein Ali sat pensively in the crowded
courtroom as Gandani read them their sentence through an
Their lawyer, Jared Magolo, said the sentence was harsh
because the court had not taken into account the years the
defendants had already spent in custody. He vowed to appeal.
"This is child's play compared to other cases where the
alleged pirates exchanged fire using automatic rifles and
injured the crew," he told reporters, adding that his clients
were only armed with knives when they were captured.
The first batch of seven Somali pirates to be tried in Kenya
were sentenced to five years each in 2006.
The U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia said in a recent report
to the Security Council, seen by Reuters, that senior pirate
leaders were benefiting from high level protection from Somali
authorities and were not being sufficiently targeted for arrest
or sanction by international authorities.
Kenya sent troops into neighbouring Somalia in pursuit of al
Shabaab rebels last year, drawing a series of retaliatory
attacks on its soil.
(Reporting by Joseph Akwiri; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing
by Rosalind Russell)