Archive for Saturday, April 18, 2009

What to do with a captured pirate?

April 18, 2009

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This file photo taken Jan. 4, 2009, originally provided by French Defense Ministry,  shows suspected pirates arrested by marine commandos of the French navy in the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia’s coast. French government officials say the Jean de Vienne,background, intercepted and captured 19 pirates as they tried to take over two cargo ships.  Many captured Somali pirates once were freed because nations feared the complications of putting them on trial. But the world is now grappling with how to prosecute the bandits — and even considering a special tribunal.

This file photo taken Jan. 4, 2009, originally provided by French Defense Ministry, shows suspected pirates arrested by marine commandos of the French navy in the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia’s coast. French government officials say the Jean de Vienne,background, intercepted and captured 19 pirates as they tried to take over two cargo ships. Many captured Somali pirates once were freed because nations feared the complications of putting them on trial. But the world is now grappling with how to prosecute the bandits — and even considering a special tribunal.

— The scrawny teenage pirate stormed the Maersk Alabama hoping for a share of a $3 million ransom. He was attacked by its sailors, stabbed in the hand and tied up, and later arrested by the U.S. Navy.

The wound probably saved the life of Abduhl Wal-i-Musi, who was taken aboard the USS Bainbridge for medical treatment before snipers killed his three comrades holding American skipper Richard Phillips hostage in a lifeboat.

Now Wal-i-Musi awaits a flight to the United States for trial — a rare instance of a piracy case advancing through the justice system.

In fact, most pirates plucked from the seas by warships of different countries are simply set free because of the many pitfalls along the path to prosecution.

“Prosecuting detained pirates — that is simply not our business,” said Cmdr. Achim Winkler of a European Union flotilla that has nine warships and three maritime patrol planes guarding shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden.

As the world grapples with the scourge of piracy in the busy waters off the Horn of Africa, the United States and other countries are calling for the bandits to be held accountable. Some even are considering a special tribunal.

A Kenya-based diplomat of another country that patrols those waters says putting pirates on trial is “still a lot of hassle.” Pirate boats are often destroyed to prevent the pirates from getting back to sea, but unless they’re caught in the act his navy’s policy is to set the marauders free.

“While nobody would advocate the ancient naval tradition of just making them walk the gangplank, equipment like GPSes, weapons (and) ladders are often just tossed overboard and the pirates let go,” said the diplomat, who asked that his name not be used because he is not authorized to speak to reporters.

What happens to captured pirates often depends on the nationalities of their victims and the navy that detained them. 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 when the French navy found them stalking a Lebanese-owned ship this week. 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” in the attack of the Dutch Antilles-flagged ship Samanyulo in January.

The crew fired a flare that set the pirates’ speedboat on fire. They jumped into the sea, and the Danish navy picked them up and sank what was left of the boat. After agreeing to take the case, Dutch investigators interviewed sailors on the freighter to make the case against the pirates.

Among the difficulties facing prosecutors is assembling witnesses scattered across the globe and finding translators in various languages. Other countries are wary of hauling in pirates for trial for fear of being saddled with them after they serve their prison terms.

Some European nations dump detained pirates back into lawless Somalia, said Pottengal Mukundan, director of the Commercial Crimes Services of the International Maritime Bureau.

“I think EU countries are concerned that if the pirates are convicted and spend time in prison, when they finish their sentence, they may not be able to send them back to Somalia,” Mukundan said.

Kenya is the most popular destination for suspects. The East African nation bordering Somalia has agreements with the U.S., EU and Britain to prosecute Somali pirates, leading to a slew of court cases in the southern port of Mombasa.

A U.S. official said Wal-i-Musi will face trial in New York, where the FBI has a history of handling African cases involving major crimes against Americans, including the 1998 al-Qaida bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk about an ongoing investigation.

Prosecutors have not yet said what charges Wal-i-Musi will face. The United States has old piracy laws on its books and new terrorism statutes that could be used, said attorney Matthew Thomas, who trains the U.S. Navy in commercial maritime law.

Michael Passman, a Chicago lawyer who has written about piracy law, said it has been more than 100 years since the United States used the statutes, and prosecutors could use other federal laws against crimes at sea.

But, he said, “this is a case where the traditional piracy statute fits so well what has been alleged against this individual.”

He said the United States also might want to set a precedent to show pirates they face stern penalties and to serve as an example to other nations.

Comments

Bill Griffith 6 years ago

Make him enroll at K-State or Mizzou.....

yankeelady 6 years ago

Don't capture them. Problem solved.

grammaddy 6 years ago

Make him walk the plank or better yet, Off with his head!!

Practicality 6 years ago

Put him on the U. of Conn. basketball team, they are going to need to replace some thugs next year.

Practicality 6 years ago

Or, give him to Another_Bozo_on_the_Bus, and let Bozo hug him until he sees the error of his ways.

labmonkey 6 years ago

Make him sword fight a boy who flies and wears green tights.

Practicality 6 years ago

labmonkey,

So, Logrithmic agreed to fight the Pirate?

compmd 6 years ago

Let them go down with their ships.

viewfromahill 6 years ago

Send them to swim with the sharks... better still, with the snarks!

TacoBob 6 years ago

Hmmm, sounds like the conundrum of Gitmo. Perhaps a military tribunal? Oh no, can't do that.

So how will the left deal with him?

Practicality 6 years ago

Give him a job with the IRS, then he could learn how to steal from people in a legal manner.

Newell_Post 6 years ago

Sorry, Marion. "Marooning" (abandonment on an uninhabited island) was the traditional treatment for merchant seamen who surrendered to pirates but refused to join the pirate crews who captured them. Pirates were either killed on the spot by the Navy or hanged after trial. The bodily remains of executed pirates were traditionally hung in gibbets or chains outside the entrance of the nearest harbor, there to be picked apart by sea birds and rats, as an example to others.

The problem with marooning is that there is a reasonable chance of rescue.

Newell_Post 6 years ago

Marion:

BTW, my father served on a US Q-Ship in WWII.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Anacapa_(AG-49)

He is the guy in the middle of the group photo, and also the guy sitting on the 4" gun. Unfortunately, they were not successful in engaging with any Japanese submarines. However, they damaged two US subs with depth charges when those subs were improperly operating near them. Maybe the Japanese had intelligence about the identity of AG-49. Somali thugs probably wouldn't have that level of sophistication....

somali69 6 years ago

They are ruthless. There is no Law & Order there.

Newell_Post 6 years ago

Thanks, Marion. Yes, we celebrated his 90th birthday a few months ago. I created that Wikipedia entry a while ago, with photos from his album, so I know they're accurate. After AG-49 switched back to a normal supply ship, they did manage to shoot down one "Betty" bomber while anchored at Guam (I think). The Navy gave official credit to another ship, but he was on the bridge and saw the tracers hit it.

I'm sure you probably read "Q-Ships vs. U-Boats" which was written by an officer of one of the Q-Ships in the Atlantic. It was indeed high-risk duty. Their basic job was to sail around in dangerous waters and TRY to get shot at by enemy subs. They carried empty drums and wood logs as flotation so that (in theory) in torpedoed, they could remain partially afloat and continue to fight the ship.

I think I would have applied for a transfer to almost anything else....

yankeevet 6 years ago

send him too K-State too play basketball...........

TacoBob 6 years ago

Hats off to your father, Newell_Post. A member of the Greatest Generation, indeed.

If I met him I would shake his hand and say 'Thank you'.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 6 years ago

You want to commit 18th century crimes? Get ready for 18th century responses.

tunahelper 6 years ago

make him wrestle Hillary on the WWE!

somebodynew 6 years ago

Well according to the news today (Sunday) NATO or someone just captured 20 of them on a mother ship, and I guess just had the authority to talk to them (and I am sure expained the errors of their judgements), disarm them and then turn them loose.

YA, that will show em.

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