France court begins trial of accused Somali pirates

France court begins trial of accused Somali pirates

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[JURIST] Six accused Somali pirates [JURIST news archive] went on trial in Paris Tuesday on charges of hijacking, kidnapping and armed robbery in connection with a 2008 attack on a yacht. Then men are accused [CNN report] of capturing the Carre-d’As IV in the Gulf of Aden and holding a French couple hostage for two weeks, allegedly demanded a ransom of USD $2 million. This marks France’s first-ever piracy trial, with three additional trials expected to follow. The accused face life in prison [BBC report] if convicted, and the trial could last until early December.

International maritime piracy [JURIST news archive] reached an all-time high [JURIST report] early in the first quarter of 2011, according to a report [press release] released in April by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) [official website]. Last month, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Taye-Brook Zerihoun [official profile] urged the international community to increase efforts to combat Somali piracy [JURIST report]. Zerihoun’s concerns stemmed from the Security Council’s adoption [JURIST report] of a resolution [text] in October, urging member states to make piracy a crime and establish anti-piracy courts [webcast] due to the rise in maritime piracy crime off the coast of Somalia. France is the newest addition to the limited list of countries that have attempted to prosecute piracy, which includes Germany, Seychelles, the Netherlands, Mauritius, Yemen, Somalia, Spain and the US [JURIST reports].