Somali pirates to be tried in Kenya: Appeal Court

An armed pirate on the coastline in northeastern Somalia.  FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The war on piracy got a major boost after judges in Nairobi overturned a ruling that stopped Kenyan courts from trying piracy suspects.

Appellate Judges David Maraga, Otieno Onyango, Alnasir Vishram, Hannah Okwengu and Martha Okwenga ruled that Kenyan Courts indeed had authority and the jurisdiction to try piracy cases, irrespective of the place of the offence and the nationality of the offenders.

“Justice Mohammed Ibrahim made a mistake in holding that our courts lack the power to try piracy cases. Piracy has negative effects on the country’s economy and any state, even if not directly affected by piracy must try and punish the offenders,” said Justice Maraga on behalf of his colleagues.

Justice Ibrahim in November 2010 terminated the prosecution of nine suspected Somali pirates on grounds that Kenyan courts were not conferred with powers to deal with matters which had taken place outside Kenyan territorial waters.

He ruled that the courts did not have jurisdiction in criminal cases where the alleged offence took place outside the geographical area covered by Kenya, and ordered the government to repatriate the suspects Mohamud Mohammed, Mohammed Ali, Mohammed Dogol, Abdi Wahid, Abdulahi Omar, Abdiraman Mohammed, Khadir Mohamed, Abdirizak Hassan and Mohammed Ishmael.

The Appellate judges, however, ruled that Judge Ibrahim had no authority to order the repatriation of the suspects or direct UNHCR to take in the suspects.

Judge Maraga directed that the suspects be transferred immediately to Mombasa and their prosecution before a magistrate to proceed from where it had stopped.

According to the judges, international law gave any state the authority to try a suspect on crimes of any nature and Kenya being a signatory to International Treaties had the mandate to try the cases.

“Every state has interest of bringing to justice perpetrators of International Crimes including piracy, genocide, apartheid and human trafficking. It was therefore wrong for the judge to hold otherwise since the penal code gives Kenyan courts jurisdiction to try any case,” said Judge Maraga.

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