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Germany

Germany hands over Somali pirates to Kenya

Kenyan authorities have taken custody of seven Somali pirates from the German navy. On Wednesday, a US crew managed to retake control of a US-flagged ship after pirates hijacked the vessel off the coast of Somalia.

German military personnel escort one of seven suspected Somali pirates

The Rheinland-Pfalz brought the alleged pirates to Mombasa for prosecution

The German frigate Rheinland-Pfalz arrived in Mombasa on Wednesday, where the seven pirates were handed over to the Kenyan police, foreign ministry spokesman Jens Ploetner said.

"We welcome very much the cooperation shown by the Kenyan government," Ploetner told reporters in Berlin.

Greek and Spanish forces from the EU's Atalanta anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia captured the men in the Gulf of Aden over a week ago. The pirates had failed to seize the German supply vessel Spessart. The group was then transferred to the frigate Rhineland-Pfalz.

The pirates are to be tried in Kenya as part of an agreement made with the European Union last month. The EU and Kenya agreed to transfer to the east African country suspected Somali pirates who are detained as part of the Atalanta mission. Somalia has not had a functioning legal system for years and would be unable to try the pirates.

Initially, it was unclear whether the men would be prosecuted in Kenya or flown back to Germany, where a court in the city of Kiel issued arrest warrants for them. However, following talks between Attorney General Amos Wako and the German Ambassador in Nairobi, Walter Lindner, Kenya agreed to take them into custody.

Ploetner said the men would appear before a judge on Thursday to determine whether they remain in detention.

It was the second group of pirates handed to Kenya by the frigate after nine Somalis seized in an earlier attack on another German ship were turned over on March 9.

The ship Maersk Alabama

The Maersk Alabama was carrying food aid to Mombasa

Piracy has started to pick up again off Somalia in recent weeks following a lull of several months. On Wednesday, pirates seized the Danish-owned container ship Maersk Alabama with 20 US crew on board in the Indian Ocean.

Meanwhile the US Navy destroyer Bainbridge has arrived in the stretch of the Indian ocean where a US-flagged container ship was hijacked early Wednesday, to try and secure the safe release of the ship's kidnapped captain.

The crew of the Maersk Alabama re-took control of the vessel from pirates, but captain Richard Philips remains a captive of the hijackers, now in one of the ship's lifeboats. The vessel, which belongs to the US subsidiary of the Danish shipping line Maersk, was en route to the Kenyan port of Mombassa when it was commandeered by the pirates. It is the sixth ship to be seized this week.

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