[JURIST] A South Korean court sentenced a Somali pirate to life in prison, and three others to varying long-term sentences on Friday, for hijacking a South Korean ship. A fifth pirate pleaded guilty and was tried separately. The five men were charged with hijacking, maritime robbery and six other crimes, and they went on trial [JURIST reports] earlier this week. Mahomed Araye was sentenced to life imprisonment [Korea Times report] for an attempt to kill the captain of the ship, while the other three were sentenced to 13 to 15 years in prison. The defense claimed Araye did not attempt to kill the captain, and no one saw him fire the shots. Lawyers for the defense said they intend to appeal [AFP report].
This month, 10 pirates involved in hijacking a yacht, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, pleaded guilty in Virginia [JURIST reports]. Spain’s National Court sentenced [JURIST report] two Somali pirates to 439 years in prison each for their involvement in the 2009 hijacking of a Spanish fishing boat off the coast of Somalia. Last month, a US district court sentenced a Somali pirate to 25 years in prison [JURIST report] for his role in attacking a Danish ship, as well as the US Navy’s USS Ashland. In November, a federal jury in Virginia convicted [JURIST report] five Somali men on charges of piracy for their roles in an April attack on the USS Nichols. In August, piracy charges against six defendants were dismissed [JURIST report] when federal Judge Raymond Jackson ruled that piracy, as defined by the law of nations, does not include violence or aggression committed on the high seas, and rejected the government’s argument for an expanded reading of the statute. Piracy remains an issue of international concern, as few countries have been willing to prosecute suspected pirates. The few that have attempted to do so include Germany, Seychelles, the Netherlands, Mauritius, Yemen, Somalia and Spain [JURIST reports].