Judgment due Thursday in Europe's first Somali pirate trial

14th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Dutch court will hand down judgment Thursday in the trial of five suspected Somali pirates, the first to be prosecuted in Europe, a court official said.

Prosecutors have sought seven-year jail terms for the men, accused of attempting to hijack a Dutch Antilles-flagged ship in the Gulf of Aden with rockets and guns in January 2009. They can be jailed for up to 12 years.

Judgment was due one day after had been initially planned, court spokeswoman Caroline Stas told AFP Monday, without giving reasons.

"The judgment will be handed down on Thursday, June 17, and no longer on Wednesday," she said.

Aged between 25 and 45, the men pleaded innocence on the first day of their trial in a court in Rotterdam in the west of the Netherlands on May 25.

They told the court they were simple fishermen who were attacked as they sought help from the ship, the Samanyolu, after developing engine trouble and running out of food and water at sea.

But prosecutors said they were arrested after attacking the ship with automatic weapons and rockets.

Dutch authorities issued European arrest warrants for the five men three weeks after their arrest, and they were flown on a military plane from Bahrain in February last year to the Netherlands, where they have been in custody ever since.

© 2010 AFP

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