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Piracy

German court jails Somali pirate

A German court has jailed a Somali pirate for 12 years over his role in the hijacking of a tanker in 2010. The man later tried to come to Germany as a refugee.

The 44-year-old man, who was not named, was found guilty of kidnapping and extortion charges on Thursday by a court in the north-western city of Osnabrück. The case was in relation to the May 2010 attack of the Marshall Islands-flagged ship Marida Marguerite (pictured above) by Somali pirates, off the coast of Oman.

The ship and its 22 crew-member hostages were eventually released in December of that year, after the German shipping company that owned the tanker paid a $5.5 million (3.97 million euros) ransom.

"After four months of extensive evidence gathering, the court is convinced that the 44-year-old Somalian was a leading member of the pirates who kidnapped a chemical tanker," the court said in a statement.

During the ordeal, the mostly Indian crew suffered "cruel treatment, torture and mock executions." The court said a shot was fired next to the captain's head, the chief engineer was handcuffed and suspended by a pipe, and some crew had their genitals tied with cable binders.

The court said the accused received a significant part of the ransom money. He was arrested in May 2013 when he sought asylum while at a refugee camp in the city of Giessen. He was identified by his fingerprints, taken from the vessel and from documents left on board by the pirates.

While giving evidence in court, the man admitted to involvement in the hijacking, but denied he was in a position of leadership over the pirates and of awareness that torture was being carried out.

He intends to appeal, according to the man's lawyer.

The trial was Germany's second against Somali pirates, after the October 2012 jailing of 10 pirates who hijacked a German container ship off the coast of Somalia. They were given jail terms of between two and seven years.

jr/msh (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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