A Mombasa court has sentenced four Somalis to 42 months in jail for piracy and hijacking a fishing vessel.
Hassan Adan, Ali Abdi Fita, Abdi Liban and Dahir Afran were found guilty of attacking and hijacking a fishing vessel, the F/V Tahiri,between January 6 and 7, 2012 in the Indian Ocean while armed with an AK-47 and a grenade.
Senior Principal Magistrate Joyce Gandani established that the attackers also used violence against the crew and attempted to make their vessel a pirate ship.
Ms Gandani said evidence by the prosecution witnesses was consistent and reliable as she dismissed the accused’s defence.
Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Catherine Mwaniki had asked the court to sentence the four to life imprisonment, saying it is provided for under the Merchant Shipping Act.
Ms Mwaniki rejected a plea by the accused to be transferred to Somalia to serve their sentences, saying Kenya does not have a bilateral agreement with Somalia for transfer of prisoners.
Through Mr Jared Bosire, the accused apologised to the court for their offences and pleaded to be set free considering that they had been in remand for almost four years.
“Somalia is a stable country, they may be deported to their country to serve (their prison terms) there since they have shown remorse,” said Mr Bosire, adding that the pirates had changed their ways.
In her judgment on Wednesday, Ms Gandani said she had noted that the accused had been in custody for almost four and half years.
She also noted that other pirates who had been found guilty by Mombasa courts had not been sentenced to life imprisonment.
Kenya prosecuted its first piracy case in 2006 and has since been prosecuting suspected Somali pirates arrested by international naval forces patrolling the high seas off the Somalia coast.
The four pirates are the last batch of Somali nationals arrested by the international naval forces to be sentenced.
A captain of the F/V Tahiri, Mr Said Muhammed, and another crew member gave their evidence via video link from Tehran in Iran.
Mr Muhammed told the court that together with 14 crew members of the F/V Tahiri, they were attacked by pirates while fishing in the high seas.
He said the suspected Somali pirates took control of their vessel and told them to obey orders or be killed.
During the trial, video footage was shown to court in which pirates were seen throwing their weapons into the sea.