First European Pirate Trial to Start

May 25, 2010 Updated: May 25, 2010

The first European trial of Somali pirates will begin in The Hague, Netherlands on Tuesday. The five Somali men put on trial allegedly attempted to hijack a cargo ship, registered in the Dutch Antilles, in the Gulf of Aden on Jan. 2, 2009.

The men were arrested by a Danish frigate, after which the Netherlands issued European arrest warrants for the men. A month after the arrests, the men were flown to the Netherlands by military plane, where they have remained in pretrial detention ever since.

Dutch criminal law contains the never-used until now, article 381, which outlaws piracy. This article is being used to prosecute the Somali pirates.

Most national legal systems are not equipped to deal appropriately with pirates, and since no international legal framework has yet been set up, a majority of the time pirates have been released and almost no trials have occurred.

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