Germany wants international court for Somali pirates

In October, French forces captured nine suspected pirates at sea and handed them over to Somali security forces.

Germany wants international court for Somali pirates

Germany called on Tuesday for an international court to be set up to prosecute Somali pirates who have attacked scores of vessels this year, threatening global trade in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

A sharp rise in piracy in the waters off Somalia has pushed up insurance costs, earned pirate gangs tens of millions of dollars in ransoms and prompted foreign navies to rush to the area to protect merchant shipping.

In October, French forces captured nine suspected pirates at sea and handed them over to Somali security forces.

German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said suspected pirates should face an international court.

"It needs to be an international authority. No one wants a 'Guantanamo on the sea'," Jung told reporters in Djibouti, where he saw off 220 German troops joining a European Union (EU) anti-piracy mission.

German lawmakers agreed last week to send up to 1,400 soldiers and a frigate -- the Karlsruhe -- to the Gulf of Aden as part of the EU mission.

There have been around 95 pirate attacks in Somali waters this year. Nearly 400 people and 19 ships are currently being held along the Somali coast, including a Saudi supertanker loaded with $100 million worth of oil.

Jung said the German soldiers, who will provide protection to ships delivering food aid to Somalia would have a "robust" mandate. "Obviously there will be combat situations," he said.

Analysts say the piracy problem stems from the chaos onshore and must be tackled on land as well, but the fractured Somali government says it does not have the resources to tackle it.

The Horn of Africa nation has been in virtual anarchy since military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991. Islamist insurgents control most of the south and feuding clan militias hold sway elsewhere.

Reuters
Last Mod: 23 Aralık 2008, 18:15
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