A court in the Somali state of Puntland [official website] on Tuesday sentenced a pirate [JURIST news archive] to death for murdering the skipper of cargo ship in June. Salah Mohamed Gelle, considered a pirate ringleader, highjacked [AFP report] the MV QSM Dubai, along with seven other pirates, in June. The vessel had a crew of 24 and was headed to Bossaso. Salah was sentenced to death for executing the ship's skipper, Sayid Jacfar, when security forces attempted to board. The other pirates received sentences ranging between 10 and 17 years in prison and fines up to USD $2,000. The state of Puntland has been considered a hotbed of pirate activity [BBC report] over the last decade.
Despite increased international efforts, Somali pirates continue to be a concern in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. Last week, a Kenyan court convicted [JURIST report] seven Somali pirates and sentenced them to five years in prison. Earlier this month, a Kenyan court convicted [JURIST report] seven other Somali pirates, giving them the same five-year sentences. The maximum sentence under Kenyan law for piracy is life imprisonment, and the EU Naval Force Somalia (EU NAVFOR) [official website], a naval force that has been deployed to deal with the surge of piracy off the coast of Somalia, refuses to turn over suspects unless capital punishment is off the table. In July, a court in Seychelles convicted and sentenced [JURIST report] a group of Somali pirates to 10 years in prison following the attempted hijacking of Seychelles coastguard ship. In June, the UN announced the opening of a new high-security courtroom [JURIST report] in Kenya that will hear piracy cases. The announcement came after the UN announced $9.3 million in donations [JURIST report] to help fund piracy courts in Kenya and Seychelles.