Five Somali men, arrested on suspicion of piracy in the Gulf of Aden, went on trial in the Netherlands on Monday.
The five are accused of attempting to hijack the freighter Samanyolu in the Gulf of Aden on January 2. The Samanyolu was sailing under the flag of the Dutch Antilles, the reason why they are being tried in Rotterdam.
The five were picked up by the Danish navy who handed them over to the Dutch authorities in February.
During Monday’s preliminary hearing, lawyer Willem Jan Ausma told the court the men had acted out of ‘desperation and poverty’.
And Haroon Raza, representing a 31-year-old suspect, said the poor social, financial and political situation in the east African country was an important cause of piracy.
But Trouw quoted the public prosecutor Ward Ferdinandusse as stating not every Somalian picks up an automatic weapon and becomes a pirate. Sailors who find themselves the victims of pirates are threatened, shot at and taken captive, which can be extremely traumatic, he pointed out.
Happy in Holland
Earlier the NRC reported that the five men are pleased to be in the Netherlands. Ausma told the paper his clients feel they are in a safe environment.
Alleged pirate Yusuf (24) ‘intends to send for his wife and children as soon as he is released from prison. He knows he cannot easily be sent back to Somalia. He loves it here in the Netherlands,’ the NRC quoted Ausma as saying.
MPs have already called for the five to be deported as soon as they have served their sentence.
The main trial will take place this autumn, Trouw said.