Verdict for the first EU NAVFOR case in SeychellesNovember 4, 2010 - 18:12
EU NAVFOR welcomes the first judgment yesterday in a Seychelles prosecution in connection with the interdiction of a pirate group by an EU NAVFOR warship.
“This first conviction of pirates transferred by EU NAVFORto the Seychellesmarks an important step in the co-operation between European Union and the Republic of Seychelles in thesuppression of acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia”, comments Major General Buster Howes, Operation Commander of EU NAVFOR Somalia.
The conviction involved eleven Somali men accused of acts of piracy. The judge, His Lordship Judge Burhan, delivered the verdict at the Seychelles Courts on 3 November, sentencing the eleven Somali pirates to prison sentences of six years each, with a reduction for time spent on remand.
The conviction relates to the attack on the Spanish Fishing Vessel INTERTUNA 2, on 5 March 2010.
The Pirate Action Group activities detected in the Somali basin, approximately 350 nautical miles off the Somali Coast,led to an immediate response by the EU NAVFOR French warship FS NIVOSE who was tasked to investigate in the area. She eventually intercepted and boarded two skiffs and a whaler, in an area clearly linked to the unsuccessful attack on the fishing vessel. The whaler was destroyed and the warship took on board the two skiffs, detaining the 11 suspected pirates. With the evidence gathered and presented to the Seychelles authorities, it was approved for the 11 detainees to be flown on 17 March from Djibouti to the Seychelles for prosecution.
EU NAVFOR has to date arrested 92 individuals, of which 11 were transferred for prosecution in the Seychelles national courts. With this judgment, 43 of the 92 individuals arrested by EU NAVFOR have now already stood trial and been found guilty.
Prosecution was conducted by a Prosecutor of England & Wales who is qualified to appear in the Seychelles Court and played an important role in the timely and efficient management of the trial. The Defence Counsel was appointed by the United Nations – this is a common practice to help ensure the suspect persons have access to free legal representation and thus a fair trial. The case was conducted in English. However, language interpreters were present for the Somalis, as well as for the Spanish, Italian, and French witnesses.
The maximum sentence upon conviction for piracy offences in Seychelles is 30 years; under Seychelles Law – and indeed as a precondition for all suspected pirates being transferred by EUNAVFOR – capital punishment is not available.
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