Seven Somalis deny piracy charges

April 9, 2009 12:00 am

, MOMBASA, Kenya, Apr 9 – Seven suspected Somali pirates accused of firing on a German ship off the coast of Yemen were on Thursday charged in a Mombasa court with piracy.

The suspects who were handed over to Kenya on Wednesday by German frigate appeared before Mombasa Chief Magistrate Catherine Mwangi and denied the charges.

The charges read that: “On March 29th on the high seas of the Indian Ocean, armed with offensive weapons attacked a German navy supply ship endangering the lives of the crew members on board the vessel.”

The seven, Musa Abdullahi Said, Mohammed Abdikadir Muhammed, Muhamed Isse Said, Mohamed Ahmed Yusuf, Khalif Yusuf Farah, Mohammed Abdi Khalif and Ahmed Waesame Jama, were denied bail and were remanded until April 15 when court will rule on their bail application.

The suspects were picked up late last month by Greek and Spanish forces from a European anti-pirate unit off Somalia after they reportedly tried to capture a German oil tanker, the FGS Spessart, off southern Yemen.

The group was then transferred to a German frigate, which arrived in Mombasa with the men shortly after 1030 GMT on Wednesday.

In early March, the German navy handed over nine Somalis to Kenya after capturing them as they allegedly tried to seize a freighter in the Gulf of Aden.

The decision was taken based on an agreement between Kenya and the European Union to transfer to the east African country suspected Somali pirates who are detained as part of the Atalanta mission.

Ransom-hunting Somali pirates attacked more than 130 merchant ships in the region last year, more than double the attacks in 2007, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

The number and success rate of pirate attacks had declined slightly since the start of the year, attributed to unfavourable sea conditions and an increased foreign naval presence in the Gulf of Aden.

But on Wednesday, pirates seized a Danish-owned and US-flagged ship off Somalia with 20 American crew on board, the US Navy and the ship-owner said, in the sixth maritime hijacking in five days.



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