Kenyan Gov­ern­ment Agrees to Try Pirates Seized by U.S. Forces

By Ger­ry J. Gilmore
Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2009 — The Kenyan gov­ern­ment has agreed to try pirates cap­tured by the U.S. mil­i­tary, a senior Defense Depart­ment offi­cial said here today.

The agree­ment came about ear­li­er this month through a mem­o­ran­dum of under­stand­ing signed by U.S. State Depart­ment and Kenyan gov­ern­ment offi­cials, spokesman Bryan Whit­man told Pen­ta­gon reporters. Britain also has a sim­i­lar agree­ment with Kenya.

Kenya is an east African nation that faces the Indi­an Ocean. Kenya’s neigh­bors include Ethiopia and Soma­lia to the north and north­east, Ugan­da and Sudan to the north­west and Tan­za­nia to the south.

Seago­ing pirates oper­at­ing off the coasts of Soma­lia and Yemen have late­ly preyed on com­mer­cial ship­ping, often hold­ing cap­tured ves­sels, car­go and crews for mil­lions of dol­lars in ran­som mon­ey. The prob­lem seemed to wors­en until the recent stand up of a multi­na­tion­al, anti-pirate con­sor­tium known as Task Force 151.

The U.S.-Kenyan mem­o­ran­dum “adds to the range of pos­si­bil­i­ties in terms of being able to attack this prob­lem,” Whit­man said. And, “hav­ing a place to pros­e­cute these peo­ple,” he added, should help to dis­cour­age pirate activ­i­ty in the region.

Task Force 151 includes sup­port pro­vid­ed by the British, Chi­nese and Russ­ian navies.

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