Kenya jails four Somali pirates
Mombasa (Kenya) (AFP) - Kenya jailed four Somali pirates for seven years Wednesday over the seizure of a fishing boat in 2010, as efforts continue to end attacks off the Horn of Africa coastline.
The four pirates, armed with AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, used high-speed skiffs to pounce on the slow moving Kenyan fishing boat, MV Sherry, in September 2010.
They were later arrested by a Spanish warship patrolling off the Somali coast as part of the European Union anti-piracy mission, which freed the nine crew and a Somali translator held hostage by the pirates.
Magistrate Stephen Gacheru in Kenya's port city of Mombasa said the jail sentence should act as a "warning to others", and ordered the four be sent back to Somalia when released.
The defendants, Noor Ali Mohammed, Abdirahman Isse Mohamud, Mohammed Osman Farah and Feisal Abdi Muse, had pleaded not guilty.
At the peak of the piracy crisis in January 2011, Somali pirates held 736 hostages and 32 boats, but attacks have since waned in the face of stepped-up international naval patrols.
However, some 90 sailors and fishermen are still being held hostage by Somali pirates, many from poor families in Asia.
Several Yemeni fishermen are also being held on six boats used by the pirates as "mother ships", floating bases from which to launch their skiffs and attack large commercial vessels far out to sea.
Last year, the pirates extorted over 31 million dollars (24 million euros) in ransom payouts, according to UN estimates.