EU anti-piracy chief urges legal weapons to fight scourge

25th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

The commander of the EU's anti-piracy naval force in the Indian Ocean called Thursday for the international community to quickly find a better way of putting captured Somali pirates in the dock.

"Our action enables us to contain piracy but certainly not to resolve it," EU NAVFOR's Philippe Coindreau said.

"It is desirable that the countries of the region agree to judge the pirates and that an international solution be found as quickly as possible," he told reporters in a videoconference.

Coindreau added that the number of attacks in the region remained steady but that the zone in which they were being carried out was growing.

Pirates based in lawless Somali territory have been bagging millions of dollars in ransoms for boats seized around the Gulf of Aden, though warships from various countries patrolling the passage have captured some of them.

Ten Somalis arrested in the Indian Ocean went on trial in Hamburg this week accused of attacking a German cargo ship.

Five Somalis were found guilty of piracy for attacking a US vessel in the Indian Ocean, the first convictions in the United States on such charges in nearly two centuries, officials said Wednesday.

But Somalia's neighbour Kenya, which last year signed a deal with Western states to try suspected pirates in its courts, acquitted 26 suspected Somali pirates this month and said handling the cases was too big a burden.

More than 700 suspected and convicted pirates are now in detention in 12 countries, more than half of them in Somalia, UN officials said this month.

To try them, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has proposed, among other ideas, setting up a court under Somali authority in a neighbouring country.

© 2010 AFP

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