Kenya jails 24 Somali pirates

Nairobi, Jan 24: A Kenyan court Thursday jailed 24 Somali nationals to seven years for hijacking an Iranian merchant vessel in the Gulf of Oman, Xinhua reported.

Abdiaziz Abdullahi, Abdullahi Hassan, Mahat Adan, Ibrahim Ishaq and 20 others were found guilty of hijacking MV Ariya in October 2010.

The 24 were arrested at high seas armed with offensive weapons, and handed over to Kenya authority in the coastal city of Mombasa for prosecution.

Mombasa Senior Principle Magistrate Richard Odenyo said he was satisfied with the evidence presented by the prosecution that they were guilty as charged.

The pirates were facing charges of engaging in piracy contravening the Merchant and Shipping Act of the laws of Kenya. They allegedly committed the offense while armed with AK 47 rifles and an RPG.

“The court noted that the offence was serious and that it had endangered the lives of the crew of the vessel and convinced they must be held responsible for the offence,” ruled Odenyo.

The court also ordered the accused to be sent back to Somalia when they had finished serving their sentence.

On mitigation, their lawyer Jared Magolo informed the court that his clients were remorseful and asked the court to be lenient to them.

He asked the court to grant the accused a reasonable sentence since they had spent four years in prison in Kenya Shimo la Tewa Maximum prison.

The 24 now join list of other Somalis who have been convicted and sentenced by Kenyan courts for piracy.

Incidents of piracy have gone down drastically since the incursion of the Kenya Defence Force (KDF) in Somalia to deal with the Al-Shabaab terror group.

Kenya Seafarers Union (KSU) secretary General Andrew Mwangura said cases of piracy have dropped significantly.

IANS