News / Europe

Somalis Face Piracy Trial in Germany

Presiding judge Bernd Steinmetz, left, opens the trial against ten alleged Somali pirates in Hamburg, northern Germany, 22 Nov. 2010
Presiding judge Bernd Steinmetz, left, opens the trial against ten alleged Somali pirates in Hamburg, northern Germany, 22 Nov. 2010

Pirates were put on trial in Germany on Monday in the first pirate trial to take place in the country for around 400 years. Ten Somali men are accused of trying to capture a German container ship earlier this year.

The group of 10 was arrested in April only a few hours after the hijacking of the German cargo ship.

Senior Public Prosecutor Wilhelm Moellers said Monday he has a strong case.

He said the prosecution had presented about 22 witnesses to the court and evidence including the confiscated weapons of the accused.

The prosecution says the accused approached the German ship "Taipan" on speedboats, opened fire and launched a rocket propelled grenade before boarding. The crew onboard hid in a "panic room" and escaped capture.

The defense issued a statement saying piracy is a result of political instability in Somalia and over fishing in the country's waters.

Peter Lehr is a researcher at the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at Scotland's University of St. Andrews. He says putting Somalis on trial for piracy in a Western court is not a good idea.

"If you actually bring a person from a Somali background, where you have to fight for survival on a daily basis, basically into a Western prison system with the outlook of being able to stay there after claiming for political asylum, that simply won't work," Lehr said.

One of the defense lawyers said Monday that so far only one of the defendants has claimed asylum - but he said he didn't know what would happen after the trial.

VOA asked Lehr if a legal remedy could help solve the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia.

"It's better actually to bring about law and order on land in Somalia because that would result in the long run – in the long run mind you – in the decrease in piracy," he added.

The trial is expected to take several months. It's in a juvenile court because several of the accused say they were younger than 18 when the attempted hijacking happened. One of the defendants says he was only 13. If they are found guilty, they could face 15 years in prison.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, 23 vessels are currently being held by Somali pirates.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs