Spanish judge orders release of suspected Somali pirates

9th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

A Spanish judge Friday ordered the release of seven suspected Somali pirates detained earlier this week by a Spanish warship after public prosecutors said they should be handed to Kenya instead of being brought to Spain for questioning.

MADRID - A Spanish judge Friday ordered the release of seven suspected Somali pirates detained earlier this week by a Spanish warship after public prosecutors said they should be handed to Kenya instead of being brought to Spain for questioning.

National Court judge Fernando Andreu, who opened a preliminary investigation into the seven on Thursday, argued that sending the suspects to Kenya to be prosecuted would violate their rights since an inquiry was already underway in Spain.

Andreu had ordered the defence ministry Thursday to remand the seven suspects in custody and bring them to Spain so they could be questioned under a new piracy law adopted last year after a Spanish trawler and its crew were held hostage for six days by Somali pirates.

But public prosecutors said Friday the suspects should be taken to Kenya which has signed an agreement with the EU in March to take suspected pirates detained by EU navies patrolling Somalia's waters and prosecute them in Kenyan courts.

Some countries involved in anti-piracy operations had been reluctant to transfer pirates back to Somalia, arguing there were insufficient guarantees that due process would be followed.

A Spanish navy warship captured the seven in international waters in the Indian Ocean on Wednesday after their boat capsized when they were allegedly trying to board a Panamanian-flagged vessel.

The same warship captured another seven suspects on Thursday as they appeared to be attempting to board a Maltese-flagged merchant ship.

AFP / Expatica

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