Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Somali Pirate Gets Stiff Sentence in US Court. Will It Deter Piracy?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Somali Pirate Gets Stiff Sentence in US Court. Will It Deter Piracy?

Article excerpt

A US judge sentenced Somali pirate Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse to nearly 34 years in prison, citing a need to deter others. But the problem is getting to those who finance piracy operations.

The stiff prison sentence given a Somali pirate in US federal court in Manhattan Wednesday - nearly 34 years - is meant to be a deterrent to armed attackers who would board and hold for ransom unarmed commercial ships.

But the unresolved dilemma in many cases for those battling piracy is how to get beyond the often very poor young men recruited as pirates and get at the organizers who finance the piracy operations.

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), in the past 12 months there have been 286 piracy-related incidents off the coast of Somalia resulting in 67 hijacked ships, with 1,130 seafarers on board.

IN PICTURES: Somali pirates

In recent days, two supertankers have been attacked by pirates.

The Greek-flagged Irene SL, carrying 266,000 tons of crude oil and a 25-man crew, was seized last week 200 nautical miles east of Oman. Authorities have lost contact with the ship.

The day before that, reports the Associated Press, Somali pirates firing small arms and rocket-propelled grenades hijacked an Italian- flagged oil tanker in the Indian Ocean that had been heading from Sudan to Malaysia.

On Tuesday, the South Korean fishing trawler Keummi 305 arrived in the Kenyan port of Mombasa after its release last week by Somali pirates. The trawler had been held for four months, reportedly used as a "mother ship" for pirates attacking other vessels.

"The number of attacks remains unabated this year," says Jennifer Cooke, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "The overall level is still fairly high."

At the moment, the IMO reported Monday, "685 seafarers of various nationalities are being held for ransom on board 30 ships under various flags at various locations off the extensive Somali coastline - reflecting a situation which has progressively worsened over the last 12 months."

"Piracy attacks are becoming more violent and the tactics used by pirates include using hijacked ships as bases ('mother ships') for carrying out further attacks, with their crews remaining on board as 'human shields," according to the IMO. …

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