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article imageKenyan court hands down lenient sentence on convicted pirates

By Christopher Szabo     Sep 7, 2010 in Crime
Mombasa - A court in the Kenyan city of Mombasa has sentenced five Somali pirates to five years in jail, the most lenient sentence yet passed on anyone convicted on piracy charges in the country.
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) reported the five breathed a sigh of relief when Chief Magistrate Rosemelle Mutoka handed down the sentence.
The group’s lawyer, Jared Magolo argued his client’s imprisonment would be a burden to the Kenyan taxpayer. The five also claimed they had changed and would in future be against the practice of piracy. In mitigation of sentence, one of the five, Mohammed Ahmed, speaking through an interpreter, said:
"We have been rehabilitated and it now time for us to launch a massive campaign against piracy, we are remorseful about what we did, what we have gone through is punishment enough."
The men had spent most of their time in prison before the court hearings.
The first group of men convicted of piracy were sentenced to seven years in 2006, while earlier this year another seven were sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The five were charged with attacking a German ship, the MV Spessart in March this year. The court heard they had been armed with AK 47 assault rifles, Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) which they used to terrorise the crew.
The suspects may appeal after 14 days.
After their attack was repulsed, they were chased by international naval forces and were eventually captured by the German frigate FGS Rheinland-Pfalz, operating as part of European Union Naval Force in Somalia, EU NAVFOR.
The five were then handed over to Kenya for prosecution. Kenya is one of the few signatories of the Djibouti Code of Conduct that regularly imprisons and prosecutes suspected pirates.
EU NAVFOR has welcomed the successful prosecution. Major General Buster Howes, Operation Commander of the EU force said the judgement:
"Marks an important step in the co-operation between European Union and Kenya in the repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia.”
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