Friday, September 14, 2012

The Trials in Europe

In the first week of September nine men went on trial in the Netherlands, charged with piracy and attempted murder.They were the remainder of a group of 16 arrested in April 2011 after a gunfire battled with Dutch marines based on the warship Tromp. The Somali were supposedly on board an Iranian fishing vessel. Two Somali men were killed in the gun battle and buried at sea by the crew of the Tromp, seven released and the remaining nine were taken to the Netherlands.

The trial is expected to last less than a month, and if convicted the men face life imprisonment.

This is not the first courtcase in the Netherlands and it will not be the last.

The Netherlands has the dubious honour of being the first European country to try people for 'Somali' piracy - that was the trial of five men arrested in 2009, in June 2010 they were sentenced to five years imprisonment each. The next trial was in August 2011 of five men arrested in November 2010, they received sentences of between four and seven years. One of the people said he was only 13 years old; 'experts' put his age at between 14 and 15 years.

Meanwhile, the Dutch navy arrested another group of alleged Somali pirates last month in the Somalian coastal waters and the group are now in the process of being transported to Rotterdam for trial. (Another group, arrested in July by the Dutch navy, were taken to Oman for trial).

The trial in Italy of nine men is also continuing. The nine are facing not only piracy-related charges but also terrorism. The prosecution are trying to argue that the ransom money was intended for Al-Shabaab.

The four teenagers arrested at the same time as the nine men, were tried separately in a Rome juvenile court. The judge did not accept the charge of terrorism against the youth, but they were found guilty of attempted hi-jacking and were each sentenced to eight years in prison.

In Belgium, a man arrested on DNA evidence was sentenced in January this year to ten years imprisonment.

And in Germany, after a trial lasting nearly a hundred days of actual court appearances, the trial of ten people in Hamburg is nearing an end.