Germany Will Not Prosecute Captured Somali Priates | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 07.03.2009
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Germany Will Not Prosecute Captured Somali Priates

Nine pirates captured this week by the German Navy off the cost of Somalia will be prosecuted in Kenya despite an arrest warrant that was issued by a German court.

A picture released by the German military shows alleged pirates as they are transported to the German frigate Rheinland-Pfalz after being detained by the German navy ship in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday, March 3, 2009

This is the first time in modern German history that its navy has made apprehensions at sea

Prosecutors in the northern German city of Hamburg said on Saturday, March 7, that they would not continue with criminal proceedings against the nine men for their attempted hijack of a German cargo ship earlier this week.

The nine accused will be transported to Kenya, where, according to German authorities, they will receive a fair trial.

The decision followed an agreement signed on Friday by Kenya and the European Union, which allows for the transfer to Kenya of piracy suspects detained as part of the EU's Atalanta anti-piracy mission.

Late on Friday, the Hamburg court had issued the arrest warrants, based on charges of an attack on traffic on the high seas.

Captured pirates en route to Kenya

The German Defense Ministry said the frigate "Rheinland-Pfalz," where the pirates have been held since Tuesday, had already set course for the Kenyan port city of Mombasa. The frigate apprehended them when the pirates attacked the German merchant vessel "MV Courier" off Somalia with anti-tank missiles and firearms.

This was the first time in Germany's modern history that its navy had made any apprehensions at sea.

According to a report by broadcaster ZDF, prosecution officials said there were enough grounds for prosecuting the pirates in Germany. However, the court must first decide whether German interests were at stake during the attack.

Question of endangered German interests

Since the "MV Courier," which is owned by a Bremen-based shipping company, had been sailing under an Antiguan flag with a non-German crew, this could be questionable.

Also, the German Interior Ministry earlier this week had said there were no grounds for a German prosecution of the captured men, as no German interests were considered endangered in the attack.

For this reason the deal with Kenya was crucial, as it has cleared the way for the nine men to be handed over to face prosecution there. Theoretically, the pirates could also apply for asylum in Kenya once on land.

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