Friday, December 2, 2011

'Pirates' sentenced in Paris

On Wednesday, 30 November, five Somali men were sentenced in France to between four and eight years for hijacking a French yacht and taking the crew hostage in September 2008, three years ago. The five were originally part of a group of seven, however one man was killed at the time of the incident, and one other was acquited on Wednesday. He gets to return home, the other five continue their stay in French prisons.

During the week and a half trial (held in a Paris juvenile court as one of the defendents was under 18 when arrested) a psychiatrist gave evidence about the stress and difficulties the men were having being locked-up so far away from their homeland. Most of the men had had no contact with their families since their arrest. One man had set fire to his cell, the psychiatrist said that the best treatment would be for him to be back with his family in his cultural milieu.

This was the first modern piracy trial in France, however it will not be the last. There are currently 15 other Somali men and teenagers awaiting trial in three seperate piracy cases.

It is not the first piracy trial in Europe either.

In the Netherlands there has already been two trials. Five men, arrested in 2009 were sentenced in June 2010 to five years imprisonment. Five others, arrested in November 2010 were sentenced in August 2011 to terms ranging from four to seven years. 14 other men are currently on trial in two seperate court cases.

In Belgium one man has been on trial since May 2010. He was arrested in November 2009 on the basis of DNA evidence.

There have been ten men on trial in Germany since November 2010, they were arrested in April 2010. Their case is also been held in a juvenile court as three of the defendents were teenagers when arrested, one was younger than 14.

In Spain two men were arrested in October 2009 and sentenced to 439 years each in May 2011.