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Dutch court jails five Somalis for piracy

A court in the Netherlands has sentenced five Somali men to five years in prison for attacking a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden last year. It's the first case of its kind to be tried in Europe.

A court artist impression of five suspected Somali pirates who appeared in a Rotterdam court

The five Somali pirates were extradicted to the Netherlands last year

A Dutch court has found five Somalis guilty of the attempted hijacking of a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden, in the first such case to come to trial in Europe.

The men, aged between 25 and 45, were each sentenced to five years in prison for attacking the Dutch-Antilles cargo ship, Samanyolu, in January last year. The men used rocket launchers and other weapons, although they did not succeed in boarding the ship.

The five protested their innocence, but the public prosecutor argued their intentions were "completely clear."

The Turkish crew of the Samanyolu fired flares at the accused men's boat - which the prosecutor said was typical of those used by pirates in the Horn of Africa - setting it alight and eventually sinking it. A Danish helicopter fished the pirates out of the water, and Denmark later turned the five over to the Netherlands for prosecution.

The lawyer for the five Somalis told the Rotterdam court that they were simply fishermen whose boat had started having technical problems at sea. The defendants retracted earlier confessions witnessed by Danish navy officers, in which they admitted to having intended to attack the Samanyolu.

Given Dutch law, it is unlikely the men will be sent back to Somalia, even if they are convicted, as the war-torn country is considered to be too dangerous.

Author: Joanna Impey (AFP/dpa/Reuters)
Editor: Michael Lawton

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