By Mark Oloo in Nairobi – Seven Somali nationals have been jailed in Kenya over piracy in the Indian Ocean.
The offenders will spend five years in prison following a judgement delivered by chief magistrate Rosemelle Mutoka in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa.
Their sentencing is in line with an agreement Kenya entered with the international community to prosecute cases of piracy in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Eden.
The seven had been arrested and charged with attacking German Ship, MV Spessart in the Indian Ocean in March, this year.
Today’s judgement was made as the suspects’ lawyer Jared Magolo sough to urge court to release the seven, saying their continued stay in Kenya was a burden to State coffers.
Their conviction comes hot in the heels of reports that More than 230 civilians have been killed in violence in Somali capital Mogadishu in the last two weeks alone.
Militants have been battling Somali’s UN-backed transitional federal government, causing untold civilian suffering, displacement and deaths.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, some 400 people have been injured and more than 20,000 thrown out of their homes in the war-torn country.
Kenya is hosting tens of hundreds of Somalis who have fled their homes in and around Mogadishu, as militia groups show no signs of truce. The Horn of Africa country had no credible government since 1991 after the reign of Mohammed Said Bare.
Last year, Somali president Sheikh Sharif Ahmed met US secretary of State Hilary Clinton in Nairobi and appealed for international support to end the violence.
Last week, armed militia killed 4 Ugandan soldiers serving as peacekeepers seconded to Mogadishu by the Africa Union. African leaders are unanimous the situation in the Horn of Africa is delicate and require global support.