Verdict in Somali Hijacking Case

Court Rules in Germany’s First Modern-Day Piracy Trial – Published on Spiegel Online International, by Peter Wensierski, Oct. 19, 2012.

A court in Hamburg has handed down prison sentences to 10 Somali pirates who hijacked the German freighter cargo ship MS Taipan in 2010. The trial lasted almost two years, making it one of the longest in postwar German history. It was hampered primarily by linguistic difficulties and problems establishing the age of the defendants.  

Lasting 105 days, one of the longest trials in postwar German history ended on Friday with the judges sentencing 10 Somali pirates to between two and seven years each behind bars.

Prosecutors charged the men with attacking the MS Taipan in the Gulf of Aden, some 900 kilometers (560 miles) off the Somali coast, in April 2010.

The crew of the Taipan, which sailed under a German flag, fled to a secure room within the vessel and cut power to the engines. Dutch naval forces from an anti-piracy vessel boarded the container ship after its captain issued an SOS and overwhelmed the Somalis, who were handed over to German authorities several months later.

A Mild Verdict:

  • The court found the 10 pirates guilty on charges of kidnapping and conducting an attack on maritime traffic.
  • The men’s ages range from 19 to 50 but remain unverifiable, since they did not all know their exact date of birth.
  • “I was born under a tree,” one of them had replied when asked about his place of birth.
  • The three youngest were given two-year sentences, while the other seven were given sentences of six to seven years.
  • The court ruling in Germany’s first piracy trial in around 400 years will come as a disappointment to public prosecutors, who had called for sentences of six to 12 years for the seven oldest of the accused and four to five and a half years for the two youngest.
  • Their defense lawyers had variously argued for acquittals, reduced sentences and for the case to be dropped.
  • Critics also described the expensive, potentially precedent-setting trial as a waste of taxpayer money.

Roots of Piracy:

  • At the opening of the trial, defense lawyers issued a joint statement saying the real cause of piracy in the region was political unrest in Somalia and over-fishing of its waters by Western nations.
  • In personal statements, the defendants appealed to the court for leniency, citing the humanitarian situation in Somalia. Millions in the wartorn country are threatened by acute food shortages and a lack of basic necessities.
  • “My home country has fallen apart,” said one of the defendants through his interpreter. “I ask the judge to be fair”… //

… (full text).

Links:

New evidence suggests Libya attack not linked to al-Qaeda, on RT, Oct. 20, 2012;

America and Libya give completely different versions of Benghazi consulate attack
, on RT, Oct. 19, 2012;

Books on Worker’s Action/ Publications, by Ann Robertson and various authors, Feb. 1, 2012:

  • The true nature of a revolutionary marxist party,
  • Marxism versus anarchism: the philosophiccal roots of the Marx-Bakunin conflict,
  • the revolutionary dialectic and the liberation of humanity,
  • HUGO CHÁVEZ and the Fifth Socialist International.

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