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Somali pirates get 15-year sentences

Mogadishu: A court in Somalia handed out 15-year prison sentences to 11 pirates on Sunday, writes AFP after a phone interview with the presiding judge. Prosecutors at the court in Berbera, in the breakaway northern state of Somaliland, brought a number of charges against the men, including piracy and attempted armed kidnapping. They showed the court photos obtained from NATO naval forces showing the pirates when they were arrested last December.

"The trial, which lasted a week, was finally concluded today after the evidence brought before the court showed that the eleven were involved in piracy and hijacking. The court finally announced its verdict -- a jail term of 15 years each", Osman Ibrahim Dahir, the presiding judge, told AFP by phone from Berbera.
The pirates were detained last December after they attacked an international naval force ship mistaking it for a commercial ship off the Somali coast.

The international forces released them after disarming them, but they were arrested against a few days later by Somaliland coastguards who spotted them in a coastal village near Djibouti.

"Some of the pirates confessed their crimes while others were still reluctant to confess, but they were sentenced and sent to jail," Jamal Abdikarin, security officer in Berbera told AFP by phone.  [15/02/10]

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