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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Somali Pirate: Kenya's Courts and Somali Pirates

Reported in the Wall Street Journal, a delicate balancing act in dealing with captured Somali pirates, set out here:
Catching these pirates is just half the battle. International law makes piracy a crime, but nations have struggled to figure out where to send suspects and how to gather evidence for cases that occurred in international waters. In September, a Danish ship captured 10 alleged pirates, but ended up landing them back onshore in Somalia.

Shortly before the first catch on Wednesday, the USS Vella Gulf commander, Capt. Mark Genung, said he was eager to capture the pirates and gather evidence for "an ironclad case."

"The big holdup was finding someone who would prosecute international piracy," said Coast Guard Lt. Greg Ponzi, an officer on the task force who usually pursues drug runners in U.S. waters.

Bogeta Ongeri, the spokesman for the Kenyan Ministry of State for Defense, said Kenya is eager to cooperate with other nations to combat piracy. But his country is wary of having its courts overwhelmed. "We have taken the lead, but that doesn't mean all pirates will be tried in the Kenyan courts," he said.

Kenya has agreed to take only a limited number of cases. Mr. Ongeri said he couldn't comment on the recent arrests, but that the government would decide which cases to try in part based on where the alleged crimes took place. Kenya has provided the Navy with a checklist of evidence required to prosecute, U.S. officials said.

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