Spain hands Kenya 13 pirates

May 17, 2009 12:00 am

, MADRID, May 17 – Spain handed over to Kenyan authorities on Saturday 13 alleged Somali pirates its navy had been holding in the Indian Ocean, the defence ministry said, putting an end to a judicial row.

The Spanish naval supply ship Marques de la Ensenada had delivered the men in the Kenyan port of Mombasa at 0800 GMT, a spokesman said.

Fourteen suspected pirates were captured by the Spanish navy in two separate incidents last week. The spokesman said the 14th had been wounded and was in hospital in Djibouti.

National Court Judge Fernando Andreu Andreu had ordered the defence ministry to send them to Spain so they could be questioned under a piracy law adopted last year after a Spanish trawler and its crew were held hostage by Somali pirates.

He argued that sending them to Kenya to be prosecuted would violate their rights since an inquiry was already under way in Spain.

The judge then ordered them freed, before finally agreeing to a request by Spain’s military chief to hand them over to the Kenyans under an accord between Nairobi and the European Union, which is running an anti-piracy naval mission off Somalia.

The EU naval mission, Atalanta, began operations last December in an effort to stop attacks on one of the world’s busiest trade routes.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, pirate attacks off lawless Somalia increased tenfold in the first three months of this year compared with the same period in 2008, jumping from six to 61.



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