Somali pirates in Kenyan courts


Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has during a visit to Mombasa last week reiterated that those Somali pirates captured and handed over to the Kenyan authorities for trial will be treated in accordance with both local Kenyan law and international law.

Musyoka is reported to have made the remarks while commissioning various new welfare projects and housing units for staff at the ‘Shimo la Tewa’ prison located along Mombasa’s north coast.

Several of the captured pirates are held there on remand and have apparently tried to complain to the visiting vice president about a delay of their trial. However, it is understood that a number of their ‘colleagues’ have already been tried, found guilty and are serving lengthy prison sentences. It is not unusual, considering the case load of the Kenyan courts, that accused remain on remand for lengthy periods of time, a situation the pirates now share with the local Kenyan criminal population awaiting either trials, completion of trials or sentencing.

Kenya is not extending special consideration and privileges to the accused in view of the crimes committed on the high seas against innocent shipping crews captured and held hostage for prolonged periods of time under often atrocious circumstances. In comparison, the captured pirates are held in a civil and humane environment, not enjoyed by their own captives still held in Somalia.

Meanwhile a diplomatic quagmire emerged over the weekend, when a plane carrying over 30 alleged pirates deported from the Seychelles landed in Nairobi. The plane, belonging to a Kenyan air charter company, brought their human cargo to Nairobi on the understanding that the passengers would be permitted into Kenya and could then either make their way back to Somalia or else “melt” into the general population.

However, upon landing the aircraft was immediately directed to taxi to the military side of the airport and has since then been held under tight guard, after ground power was hooked up to the plane to permit its electrical systems to run. The identity of the charterer, also from Kenya, has been kept a closely guarded secret but it is understood that Kenyan security personnel are looking for the individual and his connections to the piracy ‘business’ in Somalia.

Reliable sources in Nairobi, however, were unable to give any indication of what decision the Kenyan government may take, i.e. either deporting the alleged pirates initially captured in Seychelloise waters to Somalia and hand them over to the government in Mogadishu or else charge them in a Kenyan court.