Yemen: 13 Somali 'pirates' on trial

2010-10-24 21:28

Sana'a - Thirteen Somalis went on trial on piracy charges in the southeast Yemen city of Mukalla on Sunday, the official Saba news agency reported.

They are accused of seizing two Yemeni boats in the Gulf of Aden to use as mother ships from which to launch attacks on merchant vessels, the charge sheet said.

Saba said the prosecution has demanded the maximum penalty of death if the 13 are found guilty. The court adjourned and set its next hearing for November 14.

On May 29, the Yemeni navy said it had arrested 13 Somali pirates and liberated a fishing boat and its crew four days after they were seized near the island of Socotra in the Gulf of Aden.

Yemeni forces recovered weapons including machine guns and two RPG launchers, the defence ministry newspaper's website cited Majur as saying at the time.

It said the rescue operation took place off Yemen's Al-Mahrah province, which borders Oman.

On May 18, a court in the capital Sana'a sentenced six Somali pirates to death and jailed six others for 10 years each for seizing a Yemeni oil tanker and killing two cabin crew in April 2009.

A day later, a court in the southern port city of Aden sentenced 10 Somali pirates to 10 years in jail for trying to hijack a cargo ship in Yemeni waters.

The website said the convictions were based on a report by a Russian naval vessel that had intercepted the Somalis and averted the hijacking.