Somali pirates being held custody
Five Somali pirates, who were captured in the Gulf of Aden last month, to be prosecuted in The Hague.
THE HAGUE—Five suspected Somali pirates were remanded in custody in the Netherlands for two weeks Wednesday after being handed over to Dutch authorities Tuesday following their apprehension at sea.
"A magistrate in Rotterdam ruled that they be held in custody for two weeks," prosecution spokesman Wim de Bruin told AFP.
After the two weeks, a judge will decide whether the men can be held further, for up to three months, pending their first public court appearance.
The men, whose ages are believed to range from 24 to 38, were intercepted in the Gulf of Aden as they allegedly attacked a Dutch cargo ship last month.
Held aboard a Danish naval vessel since the January 2 incident, they were flown to the Netherlands on a military plane from the Gulf state of Bahrain on Tuesday.
The men risk up to nine years in jail if found guilty, and their leader up to 12 years.
Their high-speed powerboat was intercepted by a Danish frigate in the first days of a multinational anti-piracy task force in the Gulf of Aden.
Prosecutors say the men were preparing to board a Dutch Antilles cargo ship, the Samanyulo.
De Bruin said the five will be officially charged with piracy on their first court appearance. This would be the Netherlands' first prosecution of suspected Somali pirates.
Pirates attacked more than 130 merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden last year, an increase of more than 200 percent on 2007, according to the International Maritime Bureau which tracks piracy and shipping security issues.
Heavily armed pirates operate high-powered speedboats and sometimes hold ships for weeks before releasing them for large ransoms paid by governments or shipowners.
More than 150 suspected pirates were arrested by naval patrols in the Gulf in 2008.