Spain judge releases underage Somali pirate suspect News
Spain judge releases underage Somali pirate suspect

[JURIST] Spanish Judge Santiago Pedraz on Tuesday ordered the release of accused Somali pirate Abdou Willy to the Spanish Juvenile Court. Pedraz ordered the release after medical examinations could not determine his age [El Pais report, in Spanish] to be over 18. Willy and one other man were charged [indictment, in Spanish, PDF; JURIST report] last week with multiple counts of kidnapping and armed assault for allegedly helping take over the Alakrana, a Spanish ship currently under the control of Somali Pirates. The results of the age test are contrary to other reports [El Pais report, in Spanish] that Willy was 19 years old and subject to jurisdiction under the National Court. Spanish officials have claimed jurisdiction over the case because Spanish citizens are involved and because the two were arrested outside of the area in which the European Union has agreed [JURIST report] to turn captured pirates over to Kenya. The pirates in control of the Alakrana have said that they would not relinquish control [El Pais report] of the ship until the two accused pirates are released.

A study released in July found that acts of piracy doubled [JURIST report] in the first six months of this year from the same period in 2008. In April, a US Coast Guard chief called for the enforcement of international piracy laws [JURIST report], citing the importance of entering Somali waters to combat the problem. Last October, the UN Security Council unanimously approved Resolution 1838 [text, PDF; press release], condemning all acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia, and calling on states to "deploy naval vessels and military aircraft to actively fight piracy on the high seas off the coast of Somalia." Although maritime piracy is increasingly widespread, Somalia's coast has been ranked as the most dangerous in the world [BBC report] due to a surge in attacks on ships carrying traded goods or humanitarian aid [NPR report].