, NAIROBI, Dec 17 – Seychelles has jailed nine Somali pirates for 22 years each over an attack on a fishing boat in March, the attorney general’s office said.
The nine were sentenced by Judge Gustave Dodin in the Indian Ocean archipelago’s Supreme Court on Wednesday, in the first case to be tried under a new section of the penal code, a statement said.
The group of nine was found guilty on three charges of piracy relating to the capture of the Seychellois fishing boat, the Galate, which they sailed towards Somalia using a GPS before running out of fuel.
The pirates tried to escape by trying to hijack another ship before they succeeded in capturing an Iranian dhow. By then however, the Seychellois coastguard had intercepted both vessels.
The pirates traded fire with the coastguard and used the crew as human shields in a tense standoff, which ended when fire destroyed the dhow and caused the pirates and crews to be rescued.
Earlier this year, the Seychelles became only the second littoral state after Kenya to sign agreements with the European Union and other naval powers to prosecute suspected pirates detained at sea.
The Indian Ocean state – which consists of 115 islands inhabited by 85,000 people – had already sentenced 11 Somalis over acts of piracy in July.
Fifteen still await trial but the Seychelles has warned its only prison is too small to keep all convicted pirates on its soil and is eagerly awaiting the UN-sponsored opening of a new prison in the Somali region of Puntland.
Kenya’s deal with foreign powers on the transfer of Somali piracy suspects looks in jeopardy as the east African nation argues it is getting little reward for bearing a burden the West doesn’t want.
Seychelles has been affected by piracy since pirates began extending their reach to evade warships deployed in the Gulf of Aden in 2008 to protect the crucial waterway.