6 pirates sentenced to death
Sanaa - A Yemeni court on Tuesday sentenced six Somali pirates to death and jailed six others for 10 years each for hijacking a Yemeni oil tanker and killing two cabin crew in April 2009.
In the first verdict of its kind against Somali pirates, a Yemeni court of first instance punished the defendants for "attempting to seize the Yemeni oil tanker... killing two crew members and wounding four others", according to the verdict.
The hijackers had forcibly captured the oil tanker Qana after it set sail from al-Mukalla port in southeast Yemen on April 26 2009. Yemeni forces recovered the ship the following day after a gunfight with the pirates.
The defendants, aged between 18 and 47, who were present in the dock, demanded the right to appeal the sentence.
"There is no evidence. There are no witnesses," some of them shouted following the verdict.
Heavily armed pirates using high-powered speed boats operate in the Gulf of Aden where they prey on ships, sometimes holding them for weeks before releasing them for large ransoms paid by governments or ship owners.
Somali pirates attempted 217 attacks over the course of 2009, according to the International Maritime Bureau, which monitors maritime crime.
There were another 35 attempts between January and March this year, IMB said, a decline of 27 from the same period last year.