{glossarbot=disable}Pirates Could Be Pros­e­cut­ed Out­side of Kenya, Offi­cial Says

By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Car­den
Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2009 — The 16 sus­pect­ed pirates cap­tured recent­ly in the Gulf of Aden by Amer­i­can mil­i­tary ships could face sep­a­rate pros­e­cu­tions in coun­tries oth­er than Kenya, Pen­ta­gon spokesman Bryan Whit­man told reporters here today.

The gov­ern­ments of Kenya and the Unit­ed States have signed a mem­o­ran­dum of under­stand­ing under which Kenya would pros­e­cute pirates inter­dict­ed by U.S. forces in the region. But there are oth­er options, Whit­man said.

“[Kenya is] not the only place where pros­e­cu­tion could take place,” he said. “It’s pos­si­ble that pros­e­cu­tions could take place in oth­er venues, to include the states that have been asso­ci­at­ed with the vic­tims of these attacks.”

The sus­pect­ed pirates cur­rent­ly are being held by Task Force 151 — the anti-pira­cy group oper­at­ing in the gulf — aboard the USNS Lewis and Clark sup­ply ship. Offi­cials have con­firmed pend­ing evi­dence and infor­ma­tion about the indi­vid­u­als, elim­i­nat­ing any pos­si­bil­i­ty the sus­pects were “dis­placed mariners” and not pirates, Whit­man said.

The crew of the guid­ed-mis­sile cruis­er USS Vel­la Gulf cap­tured the first sev­en sus­pect­ed pirates Feb. 11 after respond­ing to a dis­tress call from a near­by mer­chant ship, the Mar­shall Islands-flagged motor ves­sel Polaris. The fol­low­ing day, the Vel­la Gulf appre­hend­ed nine more pirates for try­ing to board the motor ves­sel Pre­m­di­vya, an Indi­an-flagged ves­sel.

“Pira­cy is a uni­ver­sal crime under inter­na­tion­al law, and many states have imple­ment­ed domes­tic leg­is­la­tion crim­i­nal­iz­ing pira­cy,” Whit­man explained, not­ing that the dis­po­si­tion of the alleged pirates’ pros­e­cu­tion may be known with­in the week.

Anti-pira­cy Amer­i­can forces in the region are oper­at­ing under a Unit­ed Nations Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion. Coun­tries and orga­ni­za­tions from around the world are con­tribut­ing to this effort.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)