The Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal Court on Monday upheld the sentences of 10 Somali pirates convicted of highjacking a UAE-owned bulk-carrier ship. In April 2011, the men reportedly¬†commandeered the MV Arrilah-1¬†[AFP report] as it hauled aluminum in the Arabian Sea en route to Dubai from Australia. The pirates allegedly used small-arms and explosives to lay siege to the vessel for 30 hours until UAE special forces raided the ship and apprehended the pirates with support from the air force and the US Navy’s Bahrain-based¬†Fifth Fleet¬†[official website]. The Abu Dhabi Federal Criminal Court of First Instance charged the men with highjacking and¬†sentenced them to life in prison¬†[JURIST report] in May. The court also ordered that all arms and ammunition used in the highjacking be confiscated and held that the pirates would be deported after serving their sentences, which equate to 25 years for each defendant. The appellate court accepted the appeal in form and¬†rejected it on the merits¬†[WAM report] on Monday.
Maritime piracy¬†[JURIST news archive] remains an issue of global concern. In December the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia¬†ruled¬†[JURIST report] that Somalia’s territorial waters extend no more than 12 miles from shore, concluding that the US has jurisdiction to prosecute a band of pirates accused of murdering four Americans in 2011. In November the UN Security Council¬†condemned¬†[JURIST report] piracy and acts of armed robbery against vessels off the coast of Somalia. The UN Security Council urged the international community to develop a comprehensive response to discourage these acts. In October the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court of Hamburg¬†sentenced 10 Somalis¬†[JURIST report] involved in hijacking a German freighter off the coast of Somalia in 2010. Also in October, an appeals court in Kenya concluded that¬†Kenyan courts have jurisdiction¬†[JURIST report] to try international piracy suspects. Also that month¬†six accused Somali pirates went on trial¬†[JURIST report] in a Paris court in connection with the 2008 hijacking of the cruise ship Le Ponant in the Gulf of Aden. In July the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau¬†reported that the number of global pirate attacks fell sharply[JURIST report] in the first half of 2012.