A group of suspected Somali pirates should be prosecuted in the Netherlands and not be extradited to Germany, their defence lawyer said, highlighting the complex legal challenge of trying Somali pirates.
Dutch marines boarded a hijacked German commercial ship 500 nautical miles off the Somali coast in April and arrested the 10 suspected pirates after an exchange of gunfire between the Dutch frigate, the pirates, marines and a boarding helicopter.
Germany has since requested the extradition of the pirates, intending to file criminal charges against them. The court in Amsterdam will rule on the extradition request on June 4.
“The problem is it is not sure why the Germans claim they have the power to judge these people,” lawyer Michiel Balemans representing the suspects told reporters outside the court.
“The Dutch authorities arrested the people and that’s the first step of the prosecution … and there is no reason for Germany to take over the prosecution.”
Balemans had told the court the German extradition request was unclear and contradictory, pointing to confusion over which flag the ship was flying under when it was hijacked.
Separately, a Dutch court in Rotterdam will start on Tuesday proceedings against a group of Somalis accused of trying to hijack a ship from the Dutch Antilles in January 2009.
In that incident, the Turkish crew fired signal flares at the Somali boat, ripping it to shreds. Danish marines then rescued the Somalis and handed them over to Dutch authorities.
In December, experts at a conference in The Hague said efforts to establish an international court to prosecute Somali pirates face complex laws governing the seas and national sovereignty as well as the lack of an effective police force.
Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has called for a regional court in Africa to be set up to try Somali pirates.