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Vol 50 No 21

Published 23rd October 2009


Jolly Roger justice

As attacks by Somali pirates increase in the Gulf of Aden, the trials of those captured during the last ten months begin in Mombasa

The trials of suspected Somali pirates captured by United States and European Union navies began on 8 October in Mombasa. One hundred Somalis accused of attacks against cargo ships in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean this year are held in the maximum security Shimo la Tewa gaol. In March, an 'exchange of letters' between the EU and Kenya, and a memorandum of understanding between the USA and Kenya, established the regime of bringing suspected pirates some 1,000 kilometres south to face justice. (The EU had approached Mauritius, which refused.) Aware of the deep-seated problems in Kenya's justice system ­ corruption is endemic and some 900,000 cases are pending ­ the US and EU are anxious to keep the pirates clear of domestic legal processes. The deals have not been submitted to Kenya's Parliament, but a Mombasa judge said he had been told to clear his diary for the trials.

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