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Friday, April 23, 2010

US prosecutors indict 11 suspected Somali pirates
Jonathan Cohen at 2:47 PM ET

[JURIST] US federal prosecutors have charged [press release] a group of 11 suspected Somali pirates [JURIST news archive] in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website], according to indictments unsealed Friday. The US District Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] filed separate charges against two different groups of suspected pirates. Charges [indictment, PDF] were filed against a group of six alleged pirates who were captured by the USS Nicholas [Navy press release] in late March, and separate charges [indictment, PDF] were filed against the other five who were captured by the USS Ashland [Thaindian News report] earlier this month. The US government is prosecuting the suspects for conspiring to commit and committing various offenses [AP report], including piracy and attack with the intent to plunder a vessel, noting that "the primary purpose of the conspiracy was to make money by means of piracy on the high seas."

Earlier this week, a US government official said that at least five accused Somali pirates would face charges in the US [JURIST report]. In the beginning of April, Kenyan Foreign Minister Minister Moses Wetangula said that Kenya will no longer accept Somalian pirate cases [JURIST report] to be tried in its courts. In January, the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau (IMB) [official website] reported that 2009 marked the worst year for maritime piracy [JURIST report] in six years. The information indicated that the total reported incidents of piracy reached 406, surpassing 400 for the first time since 2003. In November, Somali judge Mohamed Abdi Aware, known for jailing suspected pirates, human traffickers, and Islamist insurgents, was shot dead [JURIST report] while leaving a mosque in the Puntland city of Bossaso.

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