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Somali pirates get 5 years in prison

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Somali pirates sentenced in Dutch court
  • Five Somali men convicted in Netherlands court
  • Men attacked cargo ship in Gulf of Aden in January 2009
  • 10 other suspected pirates will be tried soon in Germany
  • Dutch trial is said to be first prosecution of pirates in Europe

(CNN) -- Five Somali men were convicted in the Netherlands of plotting a hijack at sea and sentenced to five years in prison, CNN affiliate RTL reported Thursday.

The trial of the five, said to be the first trial of pirates in Europe in modern times, opened in Rotterdam District Court May 25.

The men were captured by the Danish navy in January 2009 in the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia, after a cargo ship with a Dutch Antilles flag was attacked, said Wim de Bruin, a spokesman for the Netherlands National Prosecutor's Office.

"The ship of the pirates was destroyed by the Danish navy, and the pirates were captured and handed to the Dutch authorities," he said.

The pirates are Ahmed Yusuf Farah, 25, Jama Mohamed Samatar, 45, Abdirisaq Abdulahi Hirsi, 33, Sayid Ali Garaar, 39, and Osman Musse Farah, 32, de Bruin said.

They had faced a maximum sentence of nine to 12 years, he added.

Another suspected Somali pirate is awaiting sentencing in the United States, where he pleaded guilty in May to hijacking and kidnapping.

Prosecutors say Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse led an attack on a U.S.-flagged vessel, the Maersk Alabama, off the coast of Africa last year.

He pleaded guilty May 19 in a New York federal court to felony counts of hijacking maritime vessels, kidnapping and hostage taking for his role in the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama in the Indian Ocean on April 8, 2009.

Muse faces a maximum sentence of almost 34 years behind bars when he is sentenced October 19.

The pirates who were tried in the Netherlands spent four weeks aboard the Danish navy ship after their capture before being taken to the Netherlands, spokesman de Bruin said.

They were held in pre-trial custody while the court interviewed witnesses from the Danish navy and seamen on the Dutch Antilles cargo ship that was under attack, he said.

Five Dutch defense lawyers represented the suspects, de Bruin said.

The trial is the first of its kind in Europe, he said.

Germany will soon try 10 suspected pirates who were captured in the Gulf of Aden earlier this year.

They were arrested after their attempt to board a German cargo vessel, but the Danish navy ended the hijacking and handed them over to the Dutch authorities, Bruin said.

They have since been held in the Netherlands, and Germany requested their extradition about two months ago.

CNN's Richard Allen Greene and Eileen Hsieh contributed to this report.