Britain, Kenya sign deal on piracy

December 11, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 11- Britain and Kenya on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the arrest, transfer and prosecution of Somali pirates detained by British naval vessels.

"This MoU is very important," said Britain’s under-secretary of state for security and counter-terrorism, Lord West of Spithead, on the sidelines of an international conference on combating Somali maritime piracy.

"Kenya is a step ahead of the rest in doing this," the retired admiral told reporters.

"This fits in well with the EU force that has just been established," he added.

The deal will provide legal support for Britain to hand over to Kenya suspected pirates whom its naval fleet may detain during operations in the Gulf of Aden or Indian Ocean.
On November 18, the British navy handed over eight suspected pirates captured a week earlier during an incident at sea. They are now facing trial in the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

According to an AFP reporter there, resident magistrate Lilian Mtende denied the eight bail on Thursday and said more time was needed to study their case, which will next be heard on January 14.

The absence of a legal framework allowing for tight cooperation between the nations represented in the naval coalitions patrolling pirate-infested zones and coastal nations had been one of the main obstacles to tougher action.

Providing a broader agreement between coalition countries and coastal nations such as Kenya, Tanzania, Djibouti and Yemen is one of the main proposals on the agenda at the Nairobi conference.

The 140 delegates taking part in the two-day meeting have been discussing a document drafted by the UN Office for Drugs and Crime which proposes a six-month $1.3-million programme for enhanced legal co-operation.


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