Pirates plucked from the sea by navy warships could be tried anywhere from Mombasa to New York, Paris to Rotterdam — but most are simply set free to wreak havoc again because of legal issues.
The US, the EU and Britain all have signed agreements with Somalia's southern neighbour, Kenya, clearing the way for a slew of court cases in the southern port city of Mombasa. And the most prominent recent case— a scrawny Somali teenage pirate who stormed the US-flagged Maersk Alabama this month and was later arrested by the U.S. Navy — will be tried in New York.
But prosecutions are rare. “Prosecuting detained pirates, that is simply not our business,” said Cmdr. Achim Winkler of the EU mission Atalanta, which has nine warships and three maritime patrol planes guarding shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden.
What happens now to captured pirates often depends on the nationalities of their victims.
French soldiers take pirates who have attacked French citizens to Paris; pirates who have attacked other nations are hauled to Kenya, such as the 11 seized Wednesday when the French navy found them stalking a Lebanese-owned ship. India took 24 suspects to Yemen, since half were from there.
The Dutch took five suspects to Rotterdam, where they probably will be tried next month under a 17th-century law against “sea robbery”.