, MOMBASA, Kenya, Sep 29 – A Kenyan court has handed a five-year jail sentence each to 11 more pirates who were arrested by the French Navy over a year ago.
The men had defended themselves by claiming that they were fishermen who had been at sea for three days, before being attacked by the French Navy.
The suspects had been charged with attacking Safmarine Asia on April 15 last year in the Indian Ocean while armed with weapons which they used to threaten the lives of the crew.
But they denied the charges, saying they had been fishing at Mbarawo, near Mogadishu and that they had thrown their fishing gear and nets into the sea when the French Navy arrested them.
Senior Resident Magistrate Richard Kirui, sitting in Mombasa, noted that the suspects had in their defense also claimed that they only had knives, nets but they were not presented in court as evidence.
"After serving your jail term, I further order you to be deported back to your country of origin," ruled the Magistrate.
Their lawyer Jared Magolo, pleaded with the court for leniency saying the suspects, who are aged between 22 and 34 have responsibilities back home and had reformed during their stay at the Shimo La Tewa Prison.
"The suspects are remorseful for their actions and have never known peace throughout their lives in their war-torn country. They need special consideration and understanding," said Mr Magolo.
"I beg this court to pardon my clients as they had undergone trauma and are now looking at ways to make their contributions by taking part in anti-piracy activities", said the lawyer..
Senior Assistant State Counsel Jacob Ondari however noted that although they were first offenders, the crime they committed was serious.
Meanwhile, The Spanish navy on Wednesday handed over four suspected Somali pirates to Kenyan authorities along with nine Kenyan fishermen they had taken hostage, police said.
The Spanish naval vessel Galicia captured the pirates when it rescued the fishermen whose boat had been hijacked on September 20 off the Kenyan coast, Coast Provincial police chief Leonard Nyongesa told reporters.
"The suspects had entered into Kenyan waters… and ordered the captain to (sail) the vessel towards Somalia. It was after some time that the fishermen raised a distress alarm when they spotted a warship on patrol," Nyongesa said.
"The Spanish warship acted swiftly to the distress call and managed to catch up with the vessel and arrested the four suspected pirates and rescued the nine Kenyans on board."
Nyongesa said the Somalis will be charged Thursday with piracy and tried under an agreement with the European Union.
"The Kenyan government will continue cooperating with European Union in our efforts of making the sea free from attacks," he said.
Kenya and the Seychelles are the only coastal states to have agreed to take in piracy suspects captured off Somalia by international navies.
Last week, a Kenyan court sentenced seven Somalis to five years in prison for acts of piracy, the third batch to be jailed since foreign anti-piracy patrols began two years ago.