Suspected Somali pirates arrive in Netherlands ahead of extradition to Germany

By Mike Corder, AP
Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Suspected Somali pirates arrive in Netherlands

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A group of 10 suspected Somali pirates facing trial in Germany arrived in the Netherlands on a military transport plane Wednesday and were shuttled off to prison pending their extradition.

An Associated Press photographer saw the KDC-10 transport plane carrying the men land at a military base in the southern city of Eindhoven. He could see the suspects’ faces in the windows of a covered stairwell before they were loaded into police vans with blackened windows and driven away.

The 10 were captured April 5 by Dutch special forces marines who slid down ropes from a helicopter to recapture the seized German container ship MV Taipan.

Germany has issued an arrest warrant for the men and plans to prosecute them, a rare instance of a European country choosing to put suspected pirates on trial.

Most suspects arrested by the European Union’s anti-piracy naval task force are disarmed and released, and put back in their boat with enough food, water and fuel to get them back to the Somali coast.

A handful have been turned over to Kenya or the Seychelles for prosecution. But Kenya has been reluctant to accept piracy suspects in recent weeks, arguing its criminal justice system is already overloaded.

Earlier Wednesday the suspects were led from the Dutch frigate HMS Tromp in Djibouti wearing beige overalls and with their hands shackled.

The operation in which they were arrested took place hours after pirates had hijacked the MV Taipan about 500 miles (800 kilometers) east of Somalia. The Dutch undertook the rescue after ensuring the Taipan’s crewmen had locked themselves safely in a bulletproof room on the ship.

The Somalis surrendered without a fight after seeing the well-armed Dutch marines board the ship as their helicopter raked the bridge with covering fire. One Dutch marine was slightly injured when he fell during the rescue.

Prosecution spokesman Wim de Bruin said an Amsterdam court will handle the case quickly. It was not immediately clear if the Somalis can appeal their extradition — a process that could slow their transfer.

International naval forces have stepped up their enforcement of the waters off East Africa in an effort to thwart a growing pirate trade. But attacks have continued and the pirates have extended their range south and east.

Experts say piracy will continue to be a problem until an effective government is established on Somalia’s lawless shores. The country has not had a functioning government for 19 years.

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