Mombasa — Nine Somali pirates have been sentenced to serve five years in jail each for a 2009 attempted hijacking of a German cargo ship.
Mombasa Chief Magistrate Stephen Riech ruled that there was sufficient evidence to convict the suspects. "The sole aim of suspects carrying weapons at the high seas was to terrorize the crew, so I hereby find them guilty as charged and commit them accordingly," he ruled on Tuesday, saying he relied on evidence from 15 witnesses.
The nine were identified in court documents as Mohaamud Mohammed Hashi alias Dhodi, Mohammed Ali Awa-Dahir, Mohammed Dogol Ali, Abdiwahid Mohammed Osman, Abduliani Omar, Abdirahman Mohammed Caser, Khadar Mohammed and Mohammed Cifer Ismail.
They had all denied the charges and claimed that they were fishing at the time of their arrest. A charge sheet read to them indicated that they had tried to hijack a German cargo ship, MV Courier, off the Indian Ocean along Somalia's territorial waters. The magistrate ruled that the offenders should be repatriated to Somalia on completion of the jail terms.
The prosecution witness said that the nine convicted were armed with three AK-47 rifles, a tokarev pistol, Rocket Propel Grenades (RPGs) among other weapons.
In November 2010, a court in Mombasa terminated their case on grounds that Kenya had no jurisdiction to hear it, but the State later appealed and a fresh hearing began culminating in Tuesday's conviction. The pirates were informed that they can appeal the decision within 14 days.