Spain approves tough new law against piracy

14th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

Spain's cabinet on Friday approved a draft law against piracy which calls for prison terms of up to 15 years for those found guilty of carrying out attacks on planes or ships.

Madrid - Spain's cabinet on Friday approved a draft law against piracy which calls for prison terms of up to 15 years for those found guilty of carrying out attacks on planes or ships.

Approval of the country's first law specifically aimed at piracy comes as Madrid seeks the release of a Spanish trawler and its crew of 36 which was seized by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean on 2 October.

Under the draft law pirate attacks carried out without violence are punishable with jail terms of between one and three years while those carried out with violence are punishable with prison terms of 10-15 years.

The bill would punish those who "take control of a ship or aeroplane and attack its crew and/or seize its cargo". It must be approved by parliament before it comes into effect.

Pirates holding the Spanish trawler are demanding USD 4 million dollars (EUR 2.6 million) in ransom and the release of two suspected pirates who were detained after it was seized and brought to Spain to face trial.

The trawler is one of 12 vessels and their crews being held by Somali pirates, according to Spain's defence ministry.

A Spanish air force plane transported Friday 54 private security guards to the Seychelles who will provide security on board 13 Spanish tuna trawlers that operate in the Indian Ocean, the defence ministry said in a statement.

The guards received training at a Spanish military school and they will be armed with machine guns and scoped rifles, it added.

Spain in April allowed Spanish-flagged vessels to employ private security guards to protect against pirates off the coast of Somalia. Last month it authorised the guards to use large-calibre weapons.

But the Spanish government has refused requests by trawler owners to have soldiers on the vessels, as France does. Spanish law does not permit the military to be used for protecting private property.

AFP/Expatica

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