SEVEN convicted Somali pirates have been sentenced to 20 years each by a Mombasa court.
The seven were arrested in October 2009 off the Gulf of Aden by Danish naval forces and handed over to the Kenyan authorities for prosecution. The pirates were attempting to hijack after they attempted to hijack a Sri-Lankan fishing trawler. 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 court as Mombasa senior resident magistrate Joyce Gandani made the ruling.
Gandani noted that piracy was on the rise and that the punishment would serve as a warning to others intending to commit piracy. "I have considered the mitigation by your lawyer on Monday. However the court takes note that piracy has been on the increase in the international seas," said Gandani. "The act of piracy has adversely affected the security and the trade of not only our country but the entire region."
The magistrate, in her ruling, considered the four years the pirates had been in remand at Shimo la Tewa prison in Mombasa. Defense attorney Jared Magolo pled for leniency, asking the court to release the suspects as they had already been rehabilitated in remand. "The purpose of any sentence is to reform those who have been convicted. This is one rare case where the trial has achieved what the sentence would have achieved. They have been reformed," said Magolo.Magolo asked the courts to consider similar cases where pirates were sentenced to lesser punishment.
In 2006, the first group of pirates was sentenced to seven years in a Mombasa court. Despite international efforts to curb piracy off the coast of Somalia, it has spread further into the Indian Ocean, widening the area under the pirates. The Horn of Africa coastline is considered one of the world's most dangerous stretches of water because of piracy.