Pirates sentenced to 10 years in Yemeni jail

Published on 13 February 2012 in News
Malak Shaher (author)

Malak Shaher


SANA’A, Nov. 20 – Ten pirates were sentenced to 10 years each in jail by a Yemeni criminal court in Al-Mukala, Hadramout governorate.

The Yemeni Coast Guard (YCG) arrested the pirates on 18 January, according to Shuja’a Al-Deen Al-Mahdi, the head of the operational unit at the YCG.

Al-Mahdi said that the 10 pirates were caught in Yemeni waters, at least 12 miles off Al-Mukala coast. Usually, pirates attack ships in non-Yemeni regional waters, according to the Coast Guard Authority (CGA).

The Yemeni waters run up to 12 miles from the coast, beyond which are international waters.

Al-Mahdi explained that some pirates “play fishermen” when they feel that they might be caught, however, these pirates did not expect to be caught.

He said that sometimes, pirates drop their guns if they feel threatened by a ship from the international fleet, and “spread their nets as if they are fishermen”.

“But the boat this time was equipped with a Kalashnikov, night vision equipment, a very high frequency device and mobile phones,” said Al-Mahdi.

In February, the Penal Court in Al-Mukalla, sentenced 12 Somalis to 13 years in jail for conducting piracy attacks in Yemeni and international waters.

When receiving ransoms from the owners of the confiscated ships, pirates use the money to enhance the technical potentials of their boats, according to CGA.

Since 2007, piracy has become a growing problem for Yemen as captured men cannot be tried in Yemeni courts when arrested in international forces.

Earlier this year, the British navy rescued five Yemeni fishermen in the Indian Ocean, kidnapped three months ago by pirates.

While kidnapped, the fishermen were used as human shields and their vessel had been used as a mother ship to conduct piracy operations.

At least 62 pirates were arrested during 2008 and 2009. While some were tried, others are still awaiting the Yemeni courts’ decisions.

Since, January 2010, Yemen has refused to try any Somali pirate arrested by the international forces.

Yesterday, a French court tried six alleged pirates after Special Forces arrested them. The French troops captured the men, aged between 21 and 35, who had allegedly hijacked a yacht off the Somali coast in 2008, according to Gulf Today.

The Somali suspects now face life sentences in a French prison if convicted of hijacking, kidnapping and armed robbery.

One of the accused said he also transported qat, a green leaf stimulant used for chewing, which is popular in Somalia, Yemen, Kenya and Ethiopia.