December 1, 2010 / 5:32 PM / 9 years ago

Kenya wants Somali piracy court set up in region

* Kenya says cannot fight piracy threat alone

* Wants special Somali court in region to try pirates

NAIROBI, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Kenya wants a special Somali court to try suspected pirates set up in a third country, its prime minister said on Wednesday.

The east African nation says it has helped to take the burden of prosecuting pirates seized by international warships in the busy shipping lanes off the coast of Somalia.

“We will be asking for ... establishment of a Somali court sitting in the territory of a third state in the region either with or without participation of the U.N.,” Prime Minister Raila Odinga told parliament.

Somalia lacks the legal infrastructure to carry out trials, and captured pirates are often released because of disagreements over which country should try them.

Kenya and the Seychelles have prosecuted dozens of pirates handed over by foreign navies, but have both said they would have difficulties coping with the numbers if all the seized pirates were handed over to them.

Odinga said Mauritius and Tanzania had also agreed to prosecute pirates but there was still need for more help.

The U.N. Security Council suggested in April creating special piracy courts to plug a gap in the global response to the costly attacks on merchant ships off the coast of Somalia.

Who would fund such courts is yet to be agreed upon.

TWO DECADES OF WAR

Pirates would continue to run amok off Somalia as long as anarchy ruled on land, Odinga said, urging the international community to step up its efforts towards ending two decades of civil war in the Horn of Africa nation.

“Piracy is undermining our tourism ... fishing within Kenya’s territorial waters has become too risky. Piracy is contributing to the rising prices of fuel ... (and) is undermining our anti-money laundering efforts,” he told lawmakers.

Kenya’s biggest port in the city of Mombasa, which is a main entry point for goods to Kenya as well as its landlocked neighbours including Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and south Sudan was increasingly uncompetitive against rival ports, Odinga noted.

Somali pirates are making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms from seizing ships, including tankers and dry bulk carriers, in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, despite the efforts of foreign navies to clamp down on such attacks.

Reporting by Humphrey Malalo; Writing by Wangui Kanina; Edited by Richard Lough

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