Mombasa court sentences 24 pirates to 7 years for Iranian vessel attack


A MOMBASA court has handed down seven year jail terms to 24 Somali pirates for carrying out an attack off Somalia on an Iranian fishing vessel they intended to use as a mothership to base further attacks.

Senior Principal Magistrate Richard Odenyo said the court had considered the evidence and found the accused guilty of carrying out pirate attacks off the Somali waters, according to the official Kenya News Agency.

"I find that the serious count of piracy has been proved against all the accused persons and hereby sentence them to serve seven year jail terms," said the magistrate.

Magistrate Odenyo said that the prosecution proved that the suspects seized the FV Ariya, from which they could attack ships to seize hostages for ransom.

But the magistrate spared the 24 from two counts of being armed with offensive weapons namely AK47s and RPGs. The weapons were seized by a Dutch navy rescue ship and lacked a specific connection to the accused individually.

"The evidence was not sufficient, hence lacks merit and I hereby grant the suspects the benefit of doubt," said Magistrate Odenyo.

Defending counsel, Jared Magolo, asked the court to be lenient because the accused were young, remorseful and sickly after ten of them were shot at during the rescue, further requesting that the magistrate consider returning them to their homeland.

After sentencing, Mr Magolo said the sentence was too harsh and he would seek his clients' consent to appeal. "Neither the shipowners nor the crew testified in this case, so who is complaining?" he said.

The 24 pirates join the growing list of others who have been convicted and sentenced by Kenyan courts for piracy on the high seas.

Source from : Shippingazette