Two men who attempted to hijack a Japanese tanker off the coast of Oman have appealed against their 10 year jail sentence, reports said Friday.
The two Somali nationals, who were convicted earlier this month in the first piracy case to be heard in Japan, filed the appeal with the Tokyo High Court Thursday, according to Kyodo News.
Tokyo District Court meted out the 10-year jail term, saying that Mohamed Urgus Adeysey and Abdinur Hussein Ali’s acts were “heinous” and typical of Somali pirates, who seek to obtain a ransom by taking hostages on the high seas.
The two were among four African men arrested in March 2011 over the attack in the Indian Ocean.
Men armed with submachine guns tried to seize the tanker, which was operated by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and had 24 crew members aboard, reports said.
US Navy personnel captured the men and handed them over to Japan’s coastguard, which for the first time applied the nation’s new anti-piracy law to transport them to Tokyo to face trial.
Adeysey and Ali are believed to be in their 20s or 30s, but reportedly said they were not certain of their own dates of birth.
Their lawyers have said they had difficulties communicating with their clients, who were apparently illiterate.
The men pleaded guilty to the charges in 2011, although one of their lawyers had previously expressed concern over their ability to understand the legal system.
The defence had argued the prosecution should have been dropped because neither the place of the attack nor the tanker — which was registered in the Bahamas — were Japanese territory, previous reports said.
The two other men who were brought to Japan will go through a different trial process because they are believed to be juveniles under Japanese law.
After a spike at the start of the last decade, successful pirate attacks on commercial vessels sailing off the Horn of Africa have diminished, deterred by an international deployment of warships to patrol the coast.