Ready for Romeo

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Somali Pirates: Kenya Trials Slowed by Absent Witnesses

Reported here:
Piracy trials are being delayed by witnesses who fail to show up in court, a magistrate has said.

Mombasa chief magistrate Rosemelle Mutoka said prosecuting pirates was “pretty straightforward” and often simpler than other cases.

She said the missing witnesses had stalled the trials of 84 suspected pirates at the Shimo la Tewa Prison.

“They are very easy cases,” Ms Mutoka said.

“The problem is witnesses. Sometimes you have to adjourn a case for up to four times.”

Ms Mutoka was speaking to the new UN special adviser on legal issues related to Somali piracy, Mr Jack Lang, who is visiting Kenya.

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She said Europe-based captains of hijacked ships often refused to come to Kenya, citing safety fears.

The chief magistrate challenged Mr Lang to produce the witnesses, saying she would soon close the cases.

“If you bring 10 to 15 witnesses, we can finish this in a week or two,” she said.

Kenya has convicted 43 Somali pirates, sentencing them from five to 20 years in Kenyan prisons.

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