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Twelve Somali suspects acquitted of acts of piracy in Mauritius

PORT-LOUIS (Xinhua) -- A court of justice in Mauritius’ capital Port-Louis has set aside charges of acts of piracy against 12 men from Somalia on Thursday.

These 12 individuals were captured by joint European Naval Forces in January 2013 after a commercial vessel, the MSC Jasmine with a Panama flag stated it was attacked by gunmen off the coast of Somalia.

The 12 accused were brought to Mauritius for trial, under an agreement between the government of the Republic of Mauritius and the European Union stating that pirates captured in the Indian Ocean shall be tried in the island of Mauritius against a fee of 3 million euros.

These 12 accused were the first to be tried but two magistrates Azam Neerooa and Wendy Rangan said the accused did not enjoyed their constitutional rights.

They were arrested and for many days not allowed to be in contact with their relatives or their lawyers.

The court also said that even it was undisputed that gunshots were fired against the MSC Jasmine, the prosecution could not established whether it was the accused parties who had done that as no arms were found with them.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has immediately lodged an appeal against the court decision and asked that the appeal may be heard as quickly as possible.

The 12 Somalis will therefore remain in custody pending the determination of that appeal.

They had claimed at the start of the criminal proceedings that they were only fishermen and had no connections with the issue of piracy.

JUNE 2013:

Twelve Somali pirate suspects charged in Mauritius

PORT LOUIS (Xinhua) -- Mauritius has put on trial 12 Somali pirates who were arrested early this year off the Horn of African country.

The office of the public prosecutor said on Wednesday that the 12 were accused of "engaging in acts of piracy in high seas" in violation of the Mauritius’ 2011 maritime law.

The hearing of the case is expected to begin in September this year.

During their first appearance in court, the Somalis denied allegations that they were pirates, affirming that they were just simple fishermen.

The 12 suspected pirates were arrested on Jan. 5 during an operation by the U.S. marines, who were responding to a distress call from a cargo ship being attacked in the Somali waters.


Twelve Somali pirate suspects appear in Mauritius court

PORT-LOUIS (Xinhua) -- Twelve Somali pirates, who were transported by air to Mauritius from Djibouti, appeared in an intermediary Mauritius court on Saturday morning.

Under the piracy and maritime violence law, the suspected pirates were charged with the crime of "engaging in piracy acts in the sea."

The 12, who were aged between 20 to 45 years, arrived in court under heavy police escort with hundreds of onlookers.

Their appearance in court was in conformity with the protocol established under the auspices of the Anti-piracy Operation Atalanta which is led by the European Union in the Indian Ocean, especially along the Somali coastal waters.

During the arrival of the pirates on Friday evening, over 100 police officers were deployed around Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport to provide security.

The pirates are expected to appear in court on Thursday next week before Justice Prithviraj Fekna who will preside over their case.

Mauritius prison staff train by Interpol on how to handle Somali pirates

PORT-LOUIS (Xinhua) -- Members of the Mauritius prison staff as well as some police officers are currently undergoing training so that they are capable of handling the Somali pirates who will be prosecuted and detained on the island nation, a well placed source has said.

A three days workshop on the Somali culture and techniques for handling Somali detainees, which was organized by Interpol, with funding from the European Union (EU), is being held this week in Mauritius’ biggest prison.

The workshop will discuss various themes which will include introduction to maritime piracy, the historical context of Somalia, piracy in Somalia, the Somali customs and norms and the daily needs of the Somali detainees as well as the measures to satisfy them.

The Mauritius commissioner of prisons Jean Bruneau recalled the program to fight against piracy by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODOC) was put in place in May 2011 in Indian Ocean countries that were asked to handle the issue of piracy.

On June 1, 2012, Mauritius officially joined the fight against piracy, accepting to prosecute and detain pirates who are arrested from that date.

"Until now, the Mauritius waters have not been violated by the pirates.

"However, given the long distance that the pirates operate within the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is forced to avert any incursion by cooperating with other friendly countries," he said.

In July 2011, Mauritius signed an agreement with the European Union, defining the conditions and the modalities for the transfer of suspected pirates for questioning, prosecution and detention on the Mauritius island.

The agreement also provided for the transfer of seized properties. In December 2011, the Mauritius Parliament adopted a law on violence and maritime piracy.


Mauritius not to give asylum to maritime pirates: Prime Minister

PORT-LOUIS (Xinhua) -- The Mauritian Prime Minister (PM) Navin Ramgoolam has said his country does not intend to give political asylum to suspected maritime pirates whose cases will be heard in the island nation.

Ramgoolam also said on Tuesday that the specially constructed prison was ready to receive 35 suspected pirates.

In July 2011, Mauritius concluded an agreement with the European Union (EU) for the transfer of suspected pirates. The agreement came into force on July 1, 2012.

The EU gave a sum of 3 million euros for the construction of the necessary infrastructure to detain, prosecute and eventually imprison the pirates.

Another agreement related to handling of pirates was also signed between Mauritius and Britain on June 8, 2012.

The prime minister pointed out these agreements do not obligate Mauritius to accept a request for transfer of the suspected pirates.

"Each request will be examined on the merits of each case by a high level committee.

"The decision to accept or reject the transfer will be ours.

"The decision will take into account a number of factors which include the geographical constraints, how convincing the case is, the political considerations regarding our capacity to keep pirates, the capacity of the courts to prosecute pirates and the internal security," he explained.

The Mauritian PM said the prosecution is just a temporary measure as the international community awaits the restoration of law and order in Somalia.

"The recent political developments in Somalia with the adoption of a new Constitution and the election of a new president are the positive measures that will help to restore peace and stability in Somalia," Ramgoolam added.



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