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10 pirates sentenced to life over UAE ship attack

Gulf has seen a spate of hijackings in recent months

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The Federal Court has ordered life imprisonment and deportation of the ten Somalis accused of hijacking a UAE ship in 2011.

"The defendants will serve 25 years in jail, then be deported," an official from the Federal Court said.

The 37,000-tonne bulk carrier MV Arrilah was attacked by pirates on April 1 last year travelling from Australia to Jebel Ali Port in Dubai.

The ship belongs to Abu Dhabi National Tanker Company (ADNATCO) and National Gas Shipping Company (NGSCO) which are together a subsidiary of Adnoc and own and operate a fleet of carriers for transporting LNG, petroleum products and sulphur.

The UAE armed forces and anti-terrorism forces supported by the US Fifth Fleet carried out a rescue operation on the hijacked ship in the Arabian Sea, freeing the crew and detaining the pirates.

The Gulf has seen a spate of hijackings off the coast of Oman in recent months. At last count, Somali pirates held 27 ships and more than 609 hostages.

Some 240 piracy incidents were recorded in the first six months of 2010, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Rise in cases

Another 266 cases of piracy were recorded in the first six months of 2011. Around 69 per cent of these involve Somali pirates, who at the end of June were holding 20 ships and 420 hostages.

In June 2011, the UN Security Council warned that Somali pirates were attacking growing numbers of ships in the Indian Ocean and that the attacks were becoming more violent.

The absence of an effective central government for two decades in Somalia and an abundance of weapons has opened the doors for piracy to boom in the waterways which link Europe, Asia and Africa.

Despite successful efforts to reduce attacks in the Gulf of Aden, international navies have been unable to stop piracy in the Indian Ocean.

The UAE has held a number of conferences on security risks and international cooperation to eliminate terrorism. A conference held in November, 2011, recommended putting in place an international cooperation to combat terrorism and organised crime in all forms. The conference focused on exchanging information and worldwide expertise. It called for a clear vision to promote training and continuous education to develop well-trained personnel working in counter terrorism and organised crime.

The UAE has called for global action on piracy.

"By bringing together all UAE stakeholders on piracy, we want to spread understanding of the issue and the challenges of responding so we can all work together toward solving this problem," Faris Al Mazroui, assistant Foreign Minister for Security and Military Affairs, said at a meeting of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia in February this year.

"The UAE has developed a comprehensive response to piracy over the past three years, and continues to view piracy off the coast of Somalia as a top priority issue," he said.