Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pirates in the News: October 29, 2009

Pirates are all over the place again, especially since it's Halloween in America and Monsoon Season is well over in the Horn of Africa.
Once again, Pirates take the top spots in desired Halloween costumes for children this year according to the National Retail Federation.

In Modern Pirate news, the top story this week is that a British Couple was captured from their yacht in the Indian Ocean and being held by Somali Pirates. Here's an interview with the sister of one of the pair:

Paul and Rachel Chandler were sailing from the Seychelles Islands to Tanzania on Friday when eight swashbucklers boarded their yacht, the Lynn Rival.

"The British couple are in our hands now. We captured them as they were touring in the Indian Ocean," a pirate who called himself Hassan told Reuters.

Hassan said the couple is healthy and ransom demands will come soon.

Also captured are a number of cargo ships and hostages from non-European countries are in the hands of pirates. Among those:

"The MV Al Khaliq, a Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier, has been hijacked early this morning off Somalia."

"There were 26 crew on board, 24 of whom are Indian and two Burmese."

Nato's closest ship to the Al Khaliq was eight hours away when the ship was seized.

NATO has been patrolling the waters around Somalia extensively, American Drones are being employed to protect shipping, and negotiators have been brought in from all sectors trying to negotiate peaceful exchanges of crews and cargo.

On the legal end of all this, trials continue in Europe and America of Somali pirates captured by the NATO navies. One such man on trial illustrates a key legal issue in the trial of pirates from Somalia, they are often teenagers and whether or not they are legal adults according to the countries prosecuting them is a consistent issue at trial.

A suspected Somali pirate captured after the hijacking of a Spanish fishing boat will face trial in the high court because a second medical test has confirmed he is older than 18, court sources said on Wednesday.

The Spanish navy captured the two Somalis in the Indian Ocean shortly after pirates overran the tuna boat Alakrana on October 2 and took hostage its multinational crew of 36.

The pirates are still in control of the boat from the Basque Country in northern Spain, and have said they will not discuss the crew's release until their two comrades are freed.

A Spanish court had decided to hand the younger suspect over to a juvenile court on Tuesday after an initial test based on samples taken from his wrist suggested he may be less than 18.

This story caught my eye from the Business Daily, the International Maritime Bureau released its yearly reports on pirate attacks and suggested strongly that removing captured pirates from their countries of origin for trial may not be the most effective deterrent.

An international maritime organisation has proposed that suspected pirates arrested off the Somali coast and the Gulf of Aden be investigated and prosecuted in their home turf to boost the war against piracy.

“It is vital that regions in Somalia such as Puntland continue to take firm action in investigating and prosecuting the pirates. This will be a far better deterrent against Somali pirates than prosecution and punishment in a foreign country,” Mr Pottengal Mukundan, the director of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said in a statement on Wednesday.

Several countries including Kenya host judicial procedures on suspected pirates arrested in the Horn of Africa nation as part of an international pact under the UN security council.

The IMB, however, observed that such foreign trials had failed to contain the piracy menace even as statistics showed the number of attacks reported this year had surpassed those registered in 2008.

It emerged on Wednesday the number of attacks involving the use of guns had shot up over the nine months to September by more than 200 per cent in the corresponding period of 2009, triggering fresh debate on whether ship owners should deploy armed guards to counter pirates whenever they attacked vessels.

There's always more news out there, but that's an idea of what's been going on this month in pirate news.

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