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Spain to hand over Somali pirates to Kenya

Fourteen Somali pirates held by the Spanish navy in the Indian Ocean are to be handed over to Kenyan authorities, its foreign minister has said, putting an end to a judicial row.

world Updated: May 12, 2009 10:21 IST

Fourteen Somali pirates held by the Spanish navy in the Indian Ocean are to be handed over to Kenyan authorities, its foreign minister has said, putting an end to a judicial row.

Miguel Angel Moratinos said the group was being handed over "immediately to the Kenyan authorities in view of an agreement between Kenya and the European Union" in March to take suspected pirates detained by EU navies patrolling Somalia's waters and prosecute them in Kenyan courts.

The decision was taken after National Court Judge Fernando Andreu agreed to a request by the head of the army, General Jose Julio Rodriguez, a defence ministry spokesman said on Monday.

The judge "is not blocking the landing of the detained in Kenya or anywhere else... Meeting the operational and security conditions is necessary" for handing them over, the spokesman added.

A Spanish navy warship captured seven of the pirates in international waters in the Indian Ocean on Wednesday after their boat capsized when they were allegedly trying to board a Panamanian-flagged vessel.

Andreu ordered the defence ministry to send them to Spain so they could be questioned under a new piracy law adopted last year after a Spanish trawler and its crew were held hostage by Somali pirates.