, MOMBASA, Nov 9 – Nine Somalis suspected of attacking a German ship walked free on Tuesday after a court in Kenya said it had no jurisdiction to prosecute them under the country\’s new Constitution.
The ruling comes days after a second court released 17 suspected Somali pirates due to a lack of evidence.
"The accused are extremely vulnerable and need protection and security," Mombasa high court judge Mohammed Ibrahim said in his ruling, ordering the men to be repatriated.
"It is the obligation of the government under the Constitution and all international conventions of human rights to ensure the safe passage and delivery of the accused persons to their country of origin," judge Ibrahim added.
If the Kenyan government fails to repatriate the nine, then the UN refugee agency should take them into care and consider them as displaced persons, the judge said.
Nairobi last year signed a deal with western states to try suspected pirates.
The men were captured by a German naval vessel in the Gulf of Aden on March 3, 2009, after a German-owned freighter, the MV Courier, came under attack from pirates with automatic weapons.
The Courier was on its way from the German city of Bremen to the United Arab Emirates with a crew of 18.