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Netherlands To Send Somali Pirate Suspects to Germany

A Dutch court has ruled that authorities can transfer 10 suspected Somali pirates to Germany for trial.

The 10 Somalis were captured by Dutch naval forces in April after an attack on a German cargo ship off the coast of Somalia.

Defense lawyers had argued the men should be tried in the Netherlands. But an Amsterdam court said Friday that the men can be extradited to Germany within 10 days.

Prosecutors there plan to charge them with hijacking the cargo ship, the MV Taipan.

The case is a rare instance of a European country prosecuting captured pirates instead of disarming them and letting them go.

Five other suspected Somali pirates are being tried in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, on charges they tried to hijack a Dutch ship in the Gulf of Aden in January 2009.

The five men have denied the charges, for which they face up to 12 years in prison. The court is expected to issue its ruling on June 16.

Other European countries are likely watching the two cases to determine the merit of prosecuting Somali pirates. Governments have been reluctant to put pirates on trial because of an unclear legal process, complicated by time and money concerns.

War-torn Somalia lacks the stability and legal framework to carry out prosecutions, while Kenya has agreed to take only selected cases.

The Seychelles islands recently began prosecuting pirates, and is setting up a special court to hear their cases.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.