30 December 2012

Somalia: Puntland Court Sentences MV Iceberg 1 Pirates

Bossaso, Somalia — A court in Somalia's Puntland regional autonomy has sentenced 3 pirates on Sunday after being found guilty of holding the newly liberated MV Iceberg 1 and its crew hostage for nearly 3 years, Garowe Online reports.

The criminal offense court in Bari region located in the region's capital Bossaso, found Abdihakim Mohamed Jama, Abdikafi Abdul Dirie and Sayid Isse guilty of piracy and kidnapping, sentencing the men from 3 to 10 years.

Judge Sheikh Adam Ahmed Mohamed gave the verdict on Sunday after days of deliberation. Sayid Isse was found guilty and sentenced to 3 years, while Mr. Dirie and Mr. Jama were sentenced to 10 years in prison each. The men were also fined for hijacking of the MV Iceberg 1 and its 24 member staff.

Court documents rev ealed that the three pirates were arrested by P untland government forces on Dec. 11 after a group of pirates attacked as the forces laid siege to the MV Iceberg 1 vessel.

The judge also stated that the other individuals who took part in the hijacking were being sought out by authorities and if found guilty could face up to life in prison.

Puntland government forces including the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) rescued the 22 hostages on Dec. 23 after a two-week standoff with the pirates on board the Dubai owned vessel.

The hostages gave an emotional press conference in Garowe, administrative capital of Puntland, after being rescued, thanking the Puntland government for conducting the operation that gave them their freedom after nearly 3 years of captivity.

The Puntland government operation last week was the first successful operation carried out to free a foreign owned vessel and international hostages being held in Somali waters since Somali piracy spiked in 2006.

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