Nine Somali men accused of piracy and other charges pleaded not guilty at their arraignment Friday. US federal prosecutors charged 11 suspected Somali pirates [JURIST report] last month. One of the 11 pleaded not guilty on Wednesday, and the final accused pirate will be arraigned next week. If convicted, the men face life sentences in federal prison. Trials for the accused pirates are scheduled for July [AP report] but may be delayed until September. Judge Bradford Stillman ordered the suspects to remain in custody until their trial
Separate charges were filed against two different groups of suspected pirates. Charges [indictment, PDF] were filed against a group of six alleged pirates who were captured by the USS Nicholas [Navy press release] in late March, and separate charges [indictment, PDF] were filed against the other five who were captured by the USS Ashland [Thaindian News report] in April. Early in April, Kenyan Foreign Minister Minister Moses Wetangula said that Kenya will no longer accept Somalian pirate cases [JURIST report] to be tried in its courts. In January, the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau (IMB) [official website] reported that 2009 marked the worst year for maritime piracy [JURIST report] in six years. The information indicated that the total reported incidents of piracy reached 406, surpassing 400 for the first time since 2003.