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Yemen court sentences Somali pirates to 5 years in prison

A penal court in the Aden province of Yemen on Sunday sentenced [SABA report] a group of 10 Somali pirates to five years in prison. The men were convicted on charges of committing acts of piracy against Yemeni fishing boats. Three other individuals were also tried but were acquitted [AFP report] for lack of evidence. The 13 individuals were originally arrested in October 2009 in the Gulf of Aden, an area where maritime piracy [JURIST news archive] remains a serious problem despite international efforts to curb it. The men were tried in a specialized criminal court created in 1999 by an executive order [text, in Arabic] from Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh to handle issues involving piracy, terrorism and hostage-taking. Earlier this month in Yemen, the trial began for 13 other Somali pirates accused of seizing Yemeni boats to use in launching attacks on merchant vessels, with the prosecution demanding the death penalty.

The international community has been supporting actions taken against maritime piracy, but the UN has recently had to call for nations to assist Kenya in conducting piracy trials [JURIST report]. In June, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced [JURIST report] that it would spend more than USD $9.3 million to fund courts that prosecute suspected Somali pirates. This action came in response to the Kenyan government's announcement in April that it would no longer accept [JURIST report] Somali pirate cases due to its overburdened legal system. The month of April also saw the UN Security Council approve a resolution [JURIST report] calling on member states to criminalize piracy under their domestic laws as well as an announcement from the UN that a trust fund established to combat piracy will be funding five projects [UN News Centre report] in an effort to help Somalia and its neighbors reduce acts of piracy committed in nearby bodies of water.

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