MOMBASA, Kenya, Mar 6 – Seven suspected Somali pirates arrested in the high seas have been charged with piracy.,
Through an interpreter suspects, dressed in orange overalls, denied the charges before Mombasa Chief Magistrate Catherine Mwangi.
The charges read that: “On February 11 this year at the high seas, you attacked a vessel MV Polaris and during the incident, put in fear the lives of the crewmen on the vessel.”
The accused are Mohamud Abdi Kheyre, Abshir Salat Elmi, Abdullahi Ahmed Hussein, Abdirahman Hussein Hassan, Abdikarim Abdullahi Hassan, Hassan Isse Muse and Feysal Ali Hussein.
Leading the prosecution, State Counsel Alexander Muteti said the seven were armed with five AK 47 Rifles, one pistol and one RPG-7 portable Rocket Launcher.
Their lawyer, Francis Kadima, applied that they be released on bond since one of them was unwell after being involved in an accident at sea, and required urgent medical treatment.
His application was however opposed by Mr Muteti, who said that the men’s nationality had not been ascertained since no documents had been recovered from them.
“If granted bail, the court would want to know where the accused reside, and by them stepping out from the court, they will have breached the country’s immigration laws since they are not here legally,” he said.
“The suspects have been brought to court by a court process, and their exit should be through the same process,” said Mr Muteti.
“We are alive to the fact that the offence is bailable but the court, with its discretion, should also consider that the offence is an international crime and raises questions of what is at stake for the country and the international community,” he said.
“Kenya would be setting a dangerous precedent if the due process is not followed in trying these suspects, they are ready to provide all documents to prove they will not abscond court,” said the suspects lawyer.
The state counsel said Kenya was a signatory to treaties in the fight against piracy including the United Nations Convention laws of the sea, and is expected to discharge its role in conformity with its constitution.
“The court should not grant the bail, taking into account the seriousness of the offence, economic implications both internationally and within, and the threat to peace,” said the prosecutor.
An affidavit filed by Senior Superintendent of Police, Samson Wandera, said the accused if convicted upon trial, would be sentenced to life, adding that the severity of the sentence may tempt them to abscond court.
“Considering the serious nature of the offence and the sentence provided for in law, I urge the court not to exercise its discretion to grant bail in their favour,” he said.
Ms Mwangi ordered ruling over the bail issue to be delivered on March 10 this year.