U.S. Navy hands over 7 suspected Somali pirates to Kenya

MOMBASA, Kenya, March 5, 2009 – U.S. Navy on Thursday handed over seven suspected Somali pirates who were arrested in the Indian Ocean to the Kenyan police.  The seven Somali pirates were brought aboard a U.S. Navy vessel that docked at the port of Mombasa, east Kenya, and will be detained at a police station.

army base - us Navy hands over suspected somalia pirates

Kenyan police guard suspected Somali pirates in the Kenyan coastal town of Mombasa, March 5, 2009. Seven suspected pirates arrested by the US Navy arrived in Kenya. Aboard the USS Leyte Gulf Guided Missile Cruiser. Following their efforts to capture a commercial vessel in the Gulf of Aden last month. (Reuters)

Marine Police Commandant Stanley Lemai told journalists the suspects were arrested by security agents in the Indian Ocean on Somali waters as they attempted to hijack a ship.

“The suspects had some weapons that will be produced in court when they are charged with the crime,” he said. But did not disclose the types of weapons the suspects had at the time of the arrest.

Lemai declined to disclose when the pirates had been arrested, but U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger hinted on Monday that some suspects would soon be handed over to the Kenyan authorities.

Conflict in Kenya Heated

Dressed in orange overalls and bare feet. The suspects who looked frail and tired were led into the cells of the port police station under tight guard. Eight pirates detained last year are facing charges in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa. Currently, there are nine pirates serving a seven-year sentence in Mombasa.

Although there have been constitutional issues raised in regard to pirates being tried in the country, there is a provision in the Kenyan constitution that allows trial for international Sea crimes.

The section under which suspected pirates are charged in. The country is contained in section 69 as read with section 69 of the penal code.

In January, the U.S entered into an agreement with Kenya to hand over suspected pirates to be tried in the country.

Increased piracy activities in the Indian Ocean off Somali waters have prompted the international community to deploy security forces in the area to cub frequent hijackings of cargo ships.

The international community has been searching for ways to prosecute pirates since the rate of attacks in the region spiked last year.

Last year, more than 40 ships and hundreds of crew members were hijacked by Somali pirates off the coast of East Africa. Since November, the rate of attacks has slowed as countries have sent ships to patrol the area. But the question of how to prosecute captured pirates has been a tricky one.

Britain has already reached a similar agreement to hand over pirates to the Kenyan authorities. (Xinhua)