Dutch Court to rule in Somali pirates case

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A Rotterdam court is set to rule on Friday in a case against five Somali pirates. The group is on trial for the November hijacking of a South African yacht in which three people were taken hostage. 

The pirates were arrested in the Gulf of Aden by the Dutch navy. One of the three victims, the yacht’s captain, was rescued by the French Navy after jumping overboard. The remaining two, a man and woman from Durban, are still missing. It is suspected the couple is being held on land by the pirates who have demanded seven million euros in ransom. 

Pirate plague The coastal area of Somalia is an important route for ships that has been plagued by pirates since the 1990s. To combat the threat they pose, the European Union launched Operation Atalanta in 2008. Since then, naval ships including a number of Dutch frigates have been patrolling the area.

Despite efforts, the International Maritime Bureau says piracy is a growing problem in the region. Pirates have taken more than 20 vessels and held over 400 people. 

International tribunal The Dutch Public Prosecutor OM has demanded prison sentences between seven and 10 years for the five pirates. However, it was previously suggested that the group be tried by an international tribunal.

Germany has joined the Netherlands in calls for such a body to try Somali pirates, but due to instability in the African region, there are questions about whether such a tribunal would be possible. 

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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