27 December 2011

Harbour cruise : Pirates? New dates for 2012

Sunday, 26.2.12,  16.00 o'clock
Sunday, 22.4.12   17.00 o'clock
What does piracy have to do with the plunder of fish off the coast of Somalia? Who is using Somali waters as a dumping ground? What is the story with the weapons on the captured MS Faina? Who are the young men from Somalia? What does 'security' mean at the gulf of Aden?

This harbour trip shines a light on the political background of the current trial.

25 December 2011

Press release

In a press release, the One World Network, No One is Illegal and the Third World Harbour Group Hamburg raise the question of whether the court is actually conducting an unbiased trial. The statement raises issues that we have been raising on this blog: the court has not heard a single witness for the defence, even after the defence lawyers have tracked down witnesses in Somalia on their own, the offer of accommodation in a youth facility has been rejected, using far-fetched reasons and the fact that one of the under-age defendants was assaulted in prison and had not been seen by a doctor until the following day in court. The groups suggest that the purpose of the trial could be to justify the expenses of the ATALANTA mission.

24 December 2011

The Christmas presents, and the good and bad pirates.

While today, probably thousends of Judges, Lawyers, Journalists and other people make their children happy with a Playmobil Pirates games, the ones accused of having been pirates, are still in prison although too young and wonder when they will finally be free.

They also wonder why everybody  calls them 'pirate' and not by their names.
And why the society enjoys anything having to do with pirates - even a political party exists in Germany with this name - but they are in prison. It is offending  to be called all the time:  Pirate !

                             Give the accused back their dignity!
                    Give them back their names and their freedom!

21 December 2011

“I am a prisoner of my illness”

Day 65 – 21 December 2011. The last court day for the year.

A new challenge against the judge, decision on the previous challenge, several statements by the defendants and a special folder.

The day started with one of the lawyers reading out a challenge against the judge on the basis that the judge is biased. The reasons being that the judge – in his last decision to decline an application for bail for the under-age defendants – suggested that anyone who showed sympathy for the defendants would also be prepared to aid their escape. An accusation that is based purely on speculation. The judge had used this reason before and, when asked for any evidence of this, back-tracked and refused to give any more details. Now the judge has used this line of argument again.

The second reason for his bias was a criticism of the manager of a facility of youth accommodation. The organisation had been asked by both the defence and by the Hamburg Youth Authority about the possibility of housing the three under-age defendants in one of their flats. As a result, the manager had attended a few court hearings and had applied for a visit to the youth detention centre, together with her staff and some of the youth that currently live there. This is part of the participatory concept of the organisation. The judge has turned this against the defendants by claiming the manager was 'not maintaining the required professional distance' to the defendants. An obvious case of the judge stepping outside his competency. This has been the third such challenge against the judge.

After that, one defendant after another made personal statements. They were polite but firm challenges  to the judge to end the trial. One could feel the frustration of the defendants, having been in detention for a year and a half, without knowing how much more time they would have to spend locked up, their health deterioating and having to sit through 65 days at court without understanding much of the proceedings. Here are a few quotes:

“I am no longer alive. I can't continue to sit here like a school child in a classroom. Please don't hesitate to pass a verdict. I don't mind what it is, as long as it's soon.”

“I've been getting more and more ill in prison. I am mentally no longer present, I think of my family, they are dependent on me. I therefore ask you to pass whatever verdict you find suitable.”
“I have been waiting for my verdict for thirteen months, I've been very ill. I am a prisoner of my illness. When I try to explain my situation to my family, they don't believe me. I have instructed my lawyers not to file any more applications. There must be an end now. Enough is enough.“
And another queried the judge and said:
“I would like to ask you a question: do you think it is a person's right to try to save themselves if they see a chance to do so? I want to save myself. My lawyers have tracked down a witness who was willing to testify that I was forced to participate. You have spoken to the witness. I want to pursue this.“
Then, during the lunch break a decision on the previous challenge against the judge was announced. The judge read out the ruling, made by his colleagues, who found that there was no bias. This doesn't come as a surprise, but what we didn't expect was that the judge actually has a special folder for 'applications declined', and that he declared this folder to be full now and that he would start a second volume for the next application.

Finally, the judge announced that, because of the pending challenge, he has not been able to set dates for the trial after the end of January (the judge is limited in what they can do while a challenge is pending). Even if everything is wound down now, there will be 21 closing addresses, which by themselves are likely to take more than the scheduled court dates in January. Because no dates have been set in advance, by now most lawyers will be booked on most days in February and March. In the worst case, this could mean that there will be a break for a couple of months before the trial resumes in April.

So the day ends with another nightmare scenario for the defendants.

16 December 2011

The role of the prosecution

State prosecutor Ronald Giesch-Rahlf has so far not contributed much to the trial. According to the German court statutes, the court – including the prosecution – is required to 'establish the truth'. This means exposing all circumstances around the events under question, including finding witnesses. However, the prosecution's contributions have mostly been  limited to objecting to anything the defence has asked for. The defence has been complaining about this for some time. They were the ones who tracked down potential witnesses in Somalia – only to have them rejected by the court.

One thing the prosecutor has been doing is preparing himself for a talk he will hold on 23 February at Marburg University on the subject “Piracy: the oldest international crime is facing new challenges”. Could it be that Giesch-Rahlf is focussing more on making himself a name than on the trial?

12 December 2011

12 December 2011 - Youth prisoner assaulted

Today, there were no regular proceedings in court. One of the under-age defendants told the court that he had been assaulted by another prisoner and that he was unable to sit through court. The court's own medical service examined him and found that there was risk of a concussion and had him admitted to hospital. 
The final court date for the year is Wednesday, 21 December.

11 December 2011

Summary of 5 – 7 December 2011

It is becoming more and more obvious that the court is not willing to allow any defence witnesses. In the last couple of weeks a number of attempts were made by the defence to summon Somali residents as witnesses to prove that the accused were forced to participate in the attack of the Taipan. All these applications have been declined by the court on the grounds that it would be too difficult to track the witnesses down (the absence of a functioning postal service and a registration system in Somalia were cited several times), that it would be too difficult to get visas for them, that they wouldn't be able to travel, or that obtaining the visas would involve having to pay a bribe and German court couldn't do that. 

Now the defence has tried to address these issues and to counter these claims. One lawyer presented detailed information about a plane owned by the German intelligence service BND, which has been used in the past to fly members of the Taliban from Afghanistan to Germany for negotiations – an operation that was not hindered by the absence of a registration system in Afghanistan, the lack of a postal service or the lack of visas. The lawyer listed the registration details of the plane, who owned it and where it was currently located. But the judge is not interested in knowing about the plane, he's only interested in finding out how the lawyer found out.

Then another lawyer presented a list of the crew members (including passport numbers) of the Dhow that was used as the 'mothership' by the pirates. Any of these people would be valuable witnesses for the defence. Again, the judge doesn't want to hear about it and claims that such a list can't exist. And now it's the prosecutor who demands to know how the lawyer obtained the information.     

And again, the three under-age defendants were refused bail. As before, everything that is presented for their release – a very positive report by the prison staff, an offer of accommodation by a youth organisation – has been used as arguments why they can't be released. According to the judge, the three are enjoying privileges in prison (e.g. access to a TV) which aren't available in the youth facility. Therefore they would be better off in prison than outside.

And another accusation which has been made before has been made again: the judge alleged that people who show solidarity with the accused would also be prepared to help the accused escape. This time, this accusation was made in a written statement by the judge, which was handed to the defence in a non-public part of the meeting and was not published at the time. Most of the lawyers were visibly upset at this procedure, because it meant that the defendants themselves would not have access to these allegations. A heated argument between the defence and the judge ensued. The judge refused to have the statement translated verbally or in writing – after all “in other circumstances also, the accused don't always understand everything”.

08 December 2011

Court refuses to hear witness from Somalia for "ethical" reasons

It's not only about German justice, said a lawyer to the judge, it is also about German morals. "What you call 'bribery' as a reason not to invite an important witness to court, is called bakshish in other countries".
All witnesses from Somalia, that have been named by the lawyers have been refused by the court, for different reasons: Somalia has no goverment, no registration system so people don't have passports or visas. Therefore no one from Somali will be considered as witnesses by the court because they are not registered! And a German court cannot send a summons to someone who isn't registered by their government.
Does that mean that generally people from countries where there is war and no goverment are not suitable as witnesses in a German court?
Is a person's existence depending on their registration or their passport?
no one is illegal!

04 December 2011

New Blog: Possession of the Sea

Of course, the trial against the ten Somali in Hamburg isn't the only such trial - there are currently hundreds of Somali being trialled or are serving their sentences in different countries. We recommend taking a look at a new blog titled "possession of the sea", which provides an overview of the situation. The blog tries
to keep track of the growing numbers of Somali who have been arrested and taken from their homeland, people who are now sitting in foreign lands waiting for foreign 'justice' or have been convicted and must now serve their time. It is hoped that the blog will also raise interest in the bigger issues behind why so many Somali are now sitting in those jails - and who is trying to possess the seas of Somalia and why.

03 December 2011

Children dying in Mogadishu while German Court refuses to hear Witnesses

While the Court again refuses to listen to a witness from Mogadishu named by the lawyers, we get the terrible news from a Somali friend of us, a refugee, that his two children aged 5 and 7 years have been shot in Mogadishu while on the way to school. The boy died, the girl is badly injured.

Knowing that the father became a refugee and left back his family, having before been a fisherman without work, and he and his wife dreamed for their kids a better future. He left Somalia in the hope to support his kids so they could go to school...

We wish our friend, his wife and the small daughter, to survive and keep alive the memory of the son.

26 November 2011

Court Report Day 59 – 23 November 2011

The day starts with a rather intrusive photographer from the tabloid paper “Bildzeitung” taking close-up photos of the accused before the trial starts. As soon as he has left, three defendants complain that that neither they nor their lawyers had been informed and that they do not want their photos taken. An incident earlier this year, where the brother of one of the accused had been murdered as a result of a newspaper report about the trial, shows that their concerns are justified. The judge replies, saying that the photographer had been given permission under the condition that the faces would be pixilated – a rule he had set very early on in the trial, and which has not always been obeyed by newspapers. One of the lawyers asks whether the name signs on the tables would be pixilated as well.

But then the judge surprises everyone by announcing that was considering to bring in a witness from Mogadishu, after already having declined an application by the defence to do so. The witness could testify that one of the accused had been press-ganged, according to the defence. The judge reports about a long telephone conversation he has had with a Somali professor in Oslo about the safest way to get the witness out of Somalia and to Hamburg.

Finally, the lawyer for one of the younger defendants applies to hear the psychiatrist of the youth prison, who could testify that it is impossible to treat the psychological problems of the defendant over such a length of time by medication only. The lawyer also states that the foreigners authority had give a written assurance that the under-age defendants would receive a temporary residence permit, if released. So the judge's assessment that they would be released in to an illegal status was rubbished.

22 November 2011

Day 58 - 21.11.11: More bizarre reasons for keeping the accused in remand

This happened after the lawyers of the 3 under-age accused explained why their clients must be released - after having been imprisoned for 18 months and 58 days of court.
Today, the judge found a new reason why the defendants – who have now been remanded for one and a half years – still can't be released on bail. Previously, he had claimed that there was flight risk, despite the fact that none of the accused had shown any desire to be in war-torn Somalia at the moment. Then he used the fact that some people had organized solidarity events for the accused against them, claiming that these people would aid their escape. Now he's on to something new:
the defendants don't have residency in Germany – and they can't possibly be released into an illegal status!
So, first they are brought here against their will and locked up. Then the fact that they don't have any social relations in Hamburg is a reason why they have to be isolated further. And now the fact that they are here is reason enough why they can't be released. In its Kafkaesque argument, the court says that, if they were released, they would be here illegally. Therefore they would have to be deported. But that would mean they would abscond, so therefore they can't be released. The fact that the three under-age defendants would in all likelihood receive a temporary permit (“Duldung”) is only a minor factor here.  

So what is the legal status of the 10 accused? Are they being held illegally? A prison cell is not an extra-territorial place - so surely if they live on German soil, that must mean that they have some sort of residency status. 

21 November 2011

Day 57 - Court Report 15 November 2011

Today a school group attends the trial. The judge declines more applications to hear defence witnesses with the usual standard arguments: the address was not clear, it would cost too much, it is unclear, whether the witness would be prepared to travel to Hamburg, or if interviewing someone on the phone the court couldn't be sure who they were talking to. The defence points out that the court did not have these reservations when trying to track down the Sri Lankan crew member of the Taipan. The judge spoke to the wife of the witness, without knowing for sure who they were talking to. The defence accuse the court of not wanting to hear any witnesses the defence puts forward and that the court was leaving it up to the defence alone to establish facts.

20 November 2011

Court Report 4, 8 and 14 November 2011

4 November 2011

Another accused makes a statement. He tells the court of how he was hired to repair outboard motors on fishing boats and ended up on the Taipan. The defence asks to have his colleagues from the workshop in Mogadishu heard. The prosecution objects with the argument that a foreign witness lacks credibility. The defence points out that this point was not raised when the Dutch marines were interviewed and that not hearing foreign witnesses in a matter that took case outside of Germany would be rather strange.

15 November 2011

Harbour tour 4 December, 2 pm

What does piracy have to do with the plunder of fish off the coast of Somalia? Who is using Somali waters as a dumping ground? What is the story with the weapons on the captured MS Faina? Who are the young men from Somalia? What does 'security' mean at the gulf of Aden?

This harbour trip shines a light on the political background of the current trial.

4 December, 2011 at 2pm, 'Vorsetzen' wharf (metro station Baumwall).

When pirate games for German kids become popular...

Adventure magazine for cool pirates!

A magazine, already in the 7th issue, well done and amusing for German kids whose parents can afford to pay 3.40 euro for a copy.
It is sold all over Germany so that the youth can get a taste of the freedom and adventure that is expecting them at sea.

But what about the ones in Somalia who, because they are lacking the sausages to build pirate ships, are forced to really become pirates in order to have something to eat?

The inequality in this world is clear to see - anyone who can count to 3 knows.

Isn't it a strange thing to let the German kids read and play pirate games and at the same time imprison young Somali people for over a year and force them to attend court for more than 57 days now, also in Germany?

Two worlds clashing.
And no justice to be seen...

56 day of Court seen in drawings. "Tell them we are also Europe..."

judge refuses Dagawayn as witness because on the fone he can not know which Dagawayne it is

"tell them we are also Europe", was written on a notice to a lawyer, which is nothing to be presented at court, but the Judge did

the judge is playing ping pong with the Motions of the Lawyers

no words

two worlds .

10 November 2011

One year of “Piracy Trial”: release the juvenile defendants!

Press Release 10 November 2011
One year of “Piracy Trial”: release the juvenile defendants!

Observers of the trial in Hamburg of the ten alleged pirates reiterate their demand for the immediate release of the three juvenile defendants who are still held in custody in Hamburg's youth prison, 'Hahnöversand'. Among the groups observing the trial are No One Is Illegal, the Third World Harbour Group and the One-World Network.

The Commissioner of the European Council for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, has repeatedly stated that juvenile defendants in detention are frequently denied access to education and are exposed to violence and abuse. It has also been proven that detention has negative psychological effects which increase the longer the detention lasts.

For the last 18 months, ten Somali have been remanded in custody. They are accused of  having attacked the container vessel MV Taipan. Three of the accused are minors. The trial started almost a year ago, on November 21, 2010. Since then, the accused have spent over 50 days in court. The defence has pointed out that there is no flight risk, that the defendants would oblige with bail conditions and that they would not abscond. Neither the prospect of a long sentence nor the expected uncertain legal status after the sentence would entice the accused to return to Somalia. Somalia is at war and some of the accused have lost contact with their families who had to flee their homes.

All applications to have the juvenile defendants released on bail have been declined. Instead, the court has reacted by ignoring birth certificates and letting a forensic scientist determine their age, and by exaggerating the charges. Last week the prosecution tried to have the case closed, ignoring the requirement to hear the Youth Aid and the juvenile defendants' guardians.

Some of the defence lawyers, together with observers, criticise – among a number of other aspects – the fact that the juvenile defendants are being held in custody for much longer than their German equivalents would be. “Also, they are refused the education they are entitled to according to the youth laws,” said Michaela Goedecke of the group No One Is Illegal in Hamburg. They should be accommodated in accordance with their age.

The trial observers are asking why the juvenile defendants continue to be held in custody. Is it because the court wants to set an example – a practice not allowed in law, and which is also scientifically proven to not to work? Or are the reasons of a racist nature? Or is there an unspoken desire to legitimize the German military operations in the Horn of Africa?

Next trial date: Monday, 14 November 2011,  10 am.

Court Report 2 November 2011

Two of the three court translators are missing today because they are sick with food poisoning. The judge declines the application from the previous hearing to summon Abdulei Dhagawayne (Big Ears).

The prosecution has had enough and wants to proceed with the closing statements. They also demand to have the last word. The defence is upset and accuses the prosecution of ignoring the proceedings, especially the fact that this is a youth court. The judge clarifies that first the Youth Aid and the report from the remand prison will have to be heard and that the trial can't close today simply because the translators are missing. One of the accused offers to help the court, although he claims to have been betrayed by the Dutch marines.

Court Report 31 October 2011

Big Ears
The day starts with the judge declining a raft of applications from the previous days: no need for an expert from Mogadishu, no need to hear the wife of one of the accused.

Then a defendant makes a statement, in which he describes how he was forced to participate in the attack on the Taipan: he had borrowed some money to start a school. He had arranged to repay the debt in instalments but suddenly the creditor wanted all the money back at once. This was impossible and the only other option for him was to join the pirates. The boss of the operation was a man called „Dhagawayne“ - Big Ears. He had threatened to kill the family of the accused if he didn't take part as a translator, therefore he had no choice but to participate. The defence counsel argues that this must lead to an acquittal and applies to have “Big Ears” summoned or at least interview him via video link.

Court Report 27 October 2011

After declaring the Sri Lankan crew member of the Taipan 'untraceable', the judge proceeds to read out a transcript of an interview with him, which was conducted by the German federal police in Colombo. One could get the impression that reading out this statement has been the judge's intention for some time, which would explain his luke-warm approach to tracing the sailor's whereabouts.

The transcript - translated by a Sri Lankan employee of the German embassy - contains a description of how the Taipan was attacked, how the crew had to duck on the bridge and then retreat into the safe room. The 'able seaman' claims to have recognised one of the accused on a photo presented to him by the German police.

08 November 2011

01 November 2011

Court report 19 October 2011

The judge declares a witness untraceable, although his whereabouts are easy to find out. Meanwhile the public is excluded from part of the hearing because a court employee doesn't feel like checking the PA system.

As on the previous day, the court expects the Taipan crew member from Sri Lanka, who doesn't show up. The judge explains why none of the German representations in Sri Lanka have managed to serve the court summons to the Taipan crew member. He is currently employed on a ship named the 'Dubai Star', the whereabouts of the ship can be obtained through a simple google search, but supposedly the name of the shipping company is unknown. Therefore the summons can't be served. It seems strange that the German justice system would be unable to find out the owner of a freight ship. But given that earlier in the year the court had declared a Somali city with a population of 100,000 non-existent, maybe it's not surprising.

31 October 2011

Court report 18 October 2011

Court report 18 October 2011

“You live in paradise – we live in hell”. Two more personal statements of the defendants and a missing witness.

Originally, another member of the Taipan crew from the Sri Lanka was supposed to appear in court today, but didn't show up. Although 9 of the defence counsel had already indicated that they didn't require the witness, he was still summoned. But the sailor is at sea, so the summons could not be served.

21 October 2011

18 October 2011

Short Court Reports from 4/5 October 2011

4 October
The defendant who made an extensive statement on September 26 answered questions from the judge. Most of what he said last time was regurgitated. He talked about his three wives, him keeping his clan-association secret from them and that he wasn't a pirate. And how he swapped a mobile phone for 260 litres of fuel. At the end, he manages to incriminate another of the accused.

5 October.
The defence lodged several more applications to subpoena 2 ethnologists and a German army officer, and to request the interview tapes from the Tromp. Another defendant made a statement and contradicted part of what the previous defendant said.

During the interview, the judge tried visibly to phrase his questions in a way that the defendant would understand. The fact that the issue of understanding isn't just a matter of phrasing the questions is exemplified by the following exchange. The defendant talks about how his parents left with a donkey. The judge then asks:

"Did the donkey have to walk by itself?"

08 October 2011

On why Malta authorities refuse asylum to some young Somalis asking wrong questions.

The Somali Jung people are refused as asylum seeker , if they can not answer the question.
For example: what is the colour of Somali flag?
If you ask this questions maybe Somali young people don't answer because they haven't seen the flag in somalia.
Everybody knows what is going on in Somalia : war ! since 20 years!
In Somalia is no peace, since 20 years.
Somalia is no education, since 20 years
So that the young people of Somalia are not educated .
They can not answer more questions that are requested for asylum seekers.
This issue is a very important one, because the Somali refugee maybe he wants to defend his rights as asylum seeker . So i request the international community especially the refugee commissioner : respect the situation in somalia and learn more about what is going on in somalia.
That would be a good way.

07 October 2011

A report the court in Hamburg should read

A report the court in Hamburg should read, while keeping three minors in pretrial detention for 18 months.

The socioeconomic impact of pretrial detention
Open Society Justice Initiative, 2011

The goal of this paper is to focus on an important and underappreciated issue and assist countries and  governments to better understand it and more effectively design policy responses to it. Although this paper makes reference to specific situations and countries, it is important to note that excessive pretrial detention is a global issue affecting developing and developed countries alike. 

International Juvenile Justice Observatory 
Download the report from here 

06 October 2011

On young Somali people working as pirates in Somalia.

An interview with A., Somali Human rights activist who had to flee Somalia and is now a refugee in Malta.

15 September 2011

What do you think about young people in Somalia who have become pirates?

My feeling is that maybe the warlords used these young people.
They stay behind of the young people.
They give the weapons, they give the small money and the boats and they say: go and kidnap the international ships in the sea.

If you want, ask the intelligence in Mogadishu they know. Because when they take the ransom, you know, immediately the ransom has the warlord.

In Somalia it's clan-ism, every clan has a warlord. This warlord has more money, more guns. Also, he uses the clan children. The people don't have work, the only work that is in Somalia is war.
He gives the money so they have work.

So the issue of the pirates in Somalia, maybe the responsibility of this issue, is with the warlords in Somalia. Ask! Everybody knows of Somali people. Especially the regions, the area of the sea like Mogadishu, like Galkayo region, like Boosaaso region - because the clans of the region participate are pirates of the sea. They share the information, they share the money, they share the guns .
They share.

But it's not wanted to take action against these people. Because now the world is one village, I stay in Malta - if I want New York, I call them, I use internet. The world now is one village, so no one can say he doesn't know what's going on.

Thank you!

Trial drags out into 2012

The court has set new dates for the trial up to the end of January 2012:

Mon,  05.12.2011
Wed,  07.12.2011
Mon,  12.12.2011
Wed,  21.12.2011

Thu, 05.01.2012
Mon, 09.01.2012
Mon, 16.01.2012
Tue, 17.01.2012
Fri, 20.01.2012
Wed, 25.01.2012
Thu, 26.01.2012
Tue, 31.01.2012

04 October 2011

Court Report 26 September

One of the accused made a comprehensive statement regarding the charges.

He told the court that he was forced by five armed men to participate in the attack on the Taipan. He had been picked up by the Dutch marines before, when he and other fishermen had been in an emergency when their motor had failed on the open sea. When they saw the Dutch frigate they tried to attract their attention. He believes the Dutch marines are doing practice runs where they deliberately arrest fishermen. The group of fishermen were released and were even given a new motor. On their way back to the coast they were set upon by the five armed men. The accused was kidnapped, while one other fisherman was killed and thrown overboard and another severely injured.

16 September 2011

Meanwhile across the road...

Sometimes it makes a huge difference which side of the road you happen to be. Hamburg's annual consumer fair "Du und Deine Welt" (you and your world) takes place from 24 September to 3 October. This year's main attraction is a "Pirate Special", promising to turn "an entire exhibition hall into a breathtaking pirates' island". We wonder how many of the expected 100,000 visitors to the fair, who take up the invitation to "immerse [themselves] in a pirate's life" realize that the real pirate life takes place within earshot of the spectacle - inside the remand prison cells, on the other side of the road from the showgrounds.

11 September 2011

The expert on everything

A quick court report from 2 September

It was Stieg Hansen, the Norwegian expert's, last day giving evidence. He spoke about what he believed was the definition of a 'pirate'; attacks on commercial fishing vessels versus attacks on illegal fishing boats; he spoke about some of the Somali people charged with piracy that he had interviewed in Somalia; the Somali court system and the arrest of 'pirates' there; he spoke about the clan systems and al-Shabaab and international terrorist lists, and he ended with names of people who have studied the effect of trauma on Somali people. He was an 'expert' on everything.

Twice he was caught out exaggerating.

PARLEZ! Additional performances

PARLEZ!, the theatre play about real and imagined pirates has put on more performances at the Fundus Childrens Theatre in Hamburg. The showings are:
Tuesday, 25 October, 11 am
Wednesday, 26 October, 11 am
Thursday, 27 October, 11 am
Friday, 28 October, 6 pm

Although the performance is primarily aimed at children, this shouldn't stop adults from going...

01 September 2011

Universal jurisdiction, Radbruch's formula and an unexpected stun grenade

Court report of 1 September 2011

Today, only procedural matters were dealt with. First, the presiding judge got into his usual habit of declining another application. Another application for a stay of proceedings had been made on the grounds that a) the court had no jurisdiction over what happened on the Taipan and b) the trial was violating the human rights of the accused.

31 August 2011

The torture continues

Report from 31. August 2011

The Norwegian Somalia expert Stieg Hansen gave evidence, for the fifth time.

While he was interviewed by one of the defence lawyers, one of the defendants complained about pain in his ears and took his headphones off. The judge immediately demanded he put them back on and sit so that “it is apparent that you are listening”. The defendant then started crying.

29 August 2011

Court rejects stay application

On August, 25., the court decided to reject the application for a stay of proceedings. The application had been made by the defence on the basis that there were insufficient legal grounds for the arrests and that the accused were not treated according to German, Dutch and international law.

In its reasons, the court stated that the basis for the arrest was Section 105 of UN Maritime Law, and that even if the accused were not treated in accordance with Dutch law, this was not sufficient reason to stop the trial.

New dates taking trial until end of November

The last few of days in court were spent hearing a psychologist from the youth authorities on the condition of one of the accused. The recurring theme with this affidavit and the defendants' own statements appears to be the fear of the accused for their families in Somalia, exacerbated by them being imprisoned and unable to help.

An expert witness aims the laser pointer at the panel of judges

Several trial dates in the last couple of weeks have been cancelled. The new dates have been set as follows:

Wed, 31. August
Thu, 01. September
Fri, 02. September
Mon, 26. September
Tue, 04. October
Wed, 05. October
Tue, 18. October
Wed, 19. October
Thu, 27. October
Fri, 28. October
Mon, 31. October
Wed, 02. November
Fri, 04. November
Tue, 08. November
Wed, 09. November
Mon, 14. November
Tue, 15. November
Mon, 21. November
Fri, 26. November
Tue, 29. November
Wed, 30. November

New application as result of denial of bail

The court has declined the application for bail for the three under-age defendants on the grounds that there are people in Hamburg who have shown empathy for the accused, who could then aid their flight. In response to this, the defence has applied for disclosure of the sources of this information. The court has reserved its decision.

15 August 2011

PARLEZ – Real Pirates. Investigations in the den of the grouper.

'Fundus Theatre', Hamburg, 'geheimagentur' Hamburg
Première and co-production

24.08. - 26.08. 8pm, Kampnagel Theatre - K1
In German, English and Somali

Slavery, crusades, piracy – when we were children, this all seemed to belong to the distant past. Although – pirates? We celebrate them at children's birthday parties, at football games and in Hollywood movies. But in reality we have switched sides to the navy: “Daddy is off to hunt pirates” ran a headline in the MOPO newspaper, and the first piracy trial in 400 years is currently taking place in Hamburg. How is that possible, and what sort of pirates are they anyway? The 'Fundus' theatre gave 300 children the opportunity to ask questions of the Puntland pirates, and 'geheimagentur' went off into the den of the grouper to present the questions. During the summer festival they will incite Somali pirates, Hamburg children and the audience to PARLEZ. PARLEZ was the code word with which the pirates claimed their right to be heard at the pirate's council. On one side there is us, the wannabe pirates with black flags and eye patches, and on the other side there are the real pirates. What happens when spectacle and reality of piracy meet? What happens on the edges of the sphere of law, where common good and law are destroyed and have to be re-invented?

'Geheimagentur' is a free label which produces situations and installations that seem like fiction but then pass the reality check. “Our works want to create a different reality, instead of just reaffirming the old, with critical intentions”

[Concept and Realisation] geheimagentur
[With] Mustafa Omar, Agane Muhamad Farah, children from Hamburger schools and ex-pirates from Little Mogadischu / Kenia
[Research] Moira Lenz, Hagar Groeteke

Wed 24.08. 20:00 8 € - 12 € Kampnagel Kasse / Ticketonline
Thu 25.08. 20:00 8 € - 12 € Kampnagel Kasse / Ticketonline
Fr 26.08. 20:00 8 € - 12 € Kampnagel Kasse / Ticketonline

14 August 2011

Court declines application for bail!

The court has declinded all the applications for bail which were made before the summer break. A press release from 'One World Network', 'No One Is Illegal' and the 'Third World Harbour Group' follows. 

Press release 12 August 2011
Court declines application for bail!
Aiding and abetting escape through observing the trial?

The Hamburg court is obviously running out of reasons to keep the 10 accused Somali in custody: instead of ending the inappropriately long remand in custody, the court has pulled out of the hat a new reason for the alleged flight risk of the defendants. People who have expressed solidarity and who have been monitoring the trial have been slandered. The court is suggesting that these people would also aid and abet the defendants absconding the trial. “Those we would like to help escape the country are the prosecutor and the judge” says Michaela Goedeke from the group 'No One Is Illegal' in Hamburg.

29 July 2011

Press Conference - Photos

A few photos from the press conference held outside the court building on August 15...

Just returned from Kenia, the theatre group 'Geheimagentur' announce their play 'PARLEZ! Echte Piraten' which will be performed from August 24 to 26 in Kampnagel Theatre.

Abdul Mohamud Qalimow

23 July 2011

"What should I answer - I don't understand"

Court is taking a break over summer. The trial will resume on August 15.

At the last hearing on 15 July, the lawyer for the youngest accused filed an application for the stay of proceedings, which several of the other lawyers joined. The basis is that the accused were held for several days in captivity before being presented before a judge. According to both Dutch and German laws, when a person is arrested, they must appear before a judge within 48 hours. This was clearly not the case, as the accused were held and interviewed on the Dutch frigate Tromp for several days. The decision on this is reserved.

Piracy Trial out in the open - two speeches

Two of the speeches held at the press conference outside the Hamburg Criminal Justice Building on July 15.

Speech by Abdulahi Mohamud Qalimow

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The ongoing state of war in Somalia; the hunger, abject poverty and injustice are strong forces that over the decades have torn the country apart. Today, the recruitment of children by Warlord gangs, Klans and Pirates is part of everyday life. These groups polarise the country for their own interests and have no scruples. Somalia is a country in ruins, a country in which millions of civilians suffer under the ravages of war.

A War Without Declaration

EU-NAVFOR (European Navy Forces) - 'Mission Atalanta': A War Without Declaration

The defendants in the so-called 'Pirate Trial' were, on 5th April 2010, attacked on the German containership Taipan by a Dutch warship, the Tromp. Heavy weapons were used and the defendants were held captive for a week on board thr Tromp as they were transported to Mogadischu. During this time highly questionable interrogations, described later as just harmless 'conversations', took place. The person who conducted the interrogations later admitted to being an officer of the Dutch Naval Intelligence. And the former captain of the Tromp received a medal for his 'special services to the navy'.

14 July 2011

"Piracy Trial" out in the open: a Somali expert gives evidence

Press Invitation for a public hearing of an expert from Somalia

Friday, 15 July 2011, 12:15 pm outside the Hamburg Criminal Justice Building (Sievekingplatz) with Political Scientist Abdulahi Mohamud Qalimow

So far, the court has made no effort whatsoever to hear expert witnesses from the Somali region. In order for at least the public to be informed and to give an expert from Somalia the opportunity to speak, a number of groups are having a public hearing outside the court building. These groups include No-One Is Illegal, Third World Harbour Group and the One World Network Hamburg, who have been closely watching the trial against the ten Somali.

Political Scientist and project manager Abdulahi Mohamud Qalimow now lives in Zurich. Before he fled Somalia in the mid 90s he started a school project in the south of the country, which he still looks after. He maintains many contacts with Somalia and Kenya, as well as with the Somali diaspora in Europe. Qalimow is a director of the Organisation for Social Welfare and Rural Development in Somalia (SOWRDO) and of the Somali Society in Switzerland. On July, 15 he will be answering questions regarding the situation in Somalia as well as the trial. This will – at least outside the court – contrast the Euro-centric viewpoint of the witnesses that have been heard in court with the statements of an expert from Somalia.

Since November 2010, the so-called piracy trial has been taking place in Hamburg: ten Somali men – three of them under age – are accused of having attacked the container vessel MV Taipan in April 2010. The ship is owned by Hamburg company. During 38 trial dates so far, the accused had to listen to seven white European expert witnesses.

Three forensic experts think that they can determine the age of the accused with dubious and humiliating methods. The birth certificates and school records of the accused do not count in a German court. The European “experts”, who have given evidence on the social and economic situation in Somalia leave many questions unanswered. With their half-knowledge obtained from the internet or without citing their sources altogether, these so-called experts evaluate the the social conditions in Somalia and play their part in deciding how the alleged crimes will be judged.

The choice of expert witnesses demonstrates the continuation of colonial practices and attitudes in a frightening way. Other practices, like the fact that the juvenile accused have been remanded in prison for over a year, also shows the double standards of the court. Were the accused German, they would have been released a long time ago.

Germany's imperial tradition is also continued in the involvement, together with other European nations, in the ATALANTA mission, which protects trade ships with military means. While those responsible for the plunder of Somali fishing grounds and the dumping of toxic waste there go unpunished, ten impoverished Somali men are being trialled. Under the UN Maritime Convention, all three activities are illegal – but only one of them is being prosecuted.

30 June 2011

Thursday 14.07.2011, 6 pm Harbour Cruise : Pirates?

18.00 Uhr Anleger Vorsetzen (U Baumwall)
What has piracy to do with the international fish theft off Somalia’s coast? Who is using Somalia’s waterways as a rubbish dump?  What is the story about the weapons on the hijacked “MS Faina”? Who are these young men from Somalia? What does “safety” mean in the Gulf of Aden? The criminal trial before the Landesgericht Hamburg is all about legal matters. In cooperation with the Hamburg group kein mensch ist illegal our harbour round trip will shed light on the political background.

29 June 2011

Exhibition and Films on the Postcolonial History in Hamburg 21.6-14.7.11



The metropolis Hamburg presents itself with charm and open to the world. This image is contradicted by the city’s colonial and racist past, as well as its post-colonial present.  Exploitation,  structural hierarchies and racism are closely connected with our colonial past. The structures of society , the use of language  or the topographies of a city are not  coincidental!
In the exhibition historical developments will be linked with our present-day reality. We will be searching for traces of (neo)colonialism in Hamburg, as well as in our own constructions of identity.

23 June 2011

The trial so far

What happened so far

Since November 22, 2010 ten Somali men have been standing trial in Hamburg. They are charged with having hijacked the freighter “MV Taipan” in the Indian Ocean and demanding ransom over Easter 2010.

The Taipan was sailing under German flag and the men were captured by a special unit of the Dutch navy – although no one has been able to tell the court of who actually ordered them to do so. The ten men were chained to the railing on the Dutch frigate “Tromp” for several days and interrogated – voluntary statements, according to the Dutch crew. The commander of the Tromp insists that they didn't arrest the men, they merely 'found' them on board the Taipan – which raises the question of how they ended up in a court if they were never arrested.

23 May 2011

Sunday 22 May 2011 - Solidarity Party in the Park

About 100 people gathered this afternoon in the park outside the Hamburg remand prison to show solidarity with the Somali men who are incarcerated there. The peoples' kitchen provided food and drink, music was provided and speakers from different groups spoke about the trial and the prison in general. Also, several people wrote postcards to the prisoners.

22 May 2011

Summary of the 18 May 2011 court date

Prof Matthies, the German Somalia "expert" was on the stand again and questioned by the defence. To start with, the judge declines an application by the defence to have some additional info which was introduced by Matthies translated into Somali. The reason being that the language of teh court is German. Later on, Somali is spoken in court because the microphones and headphones fail.

Matthies revises some fo his statements from last time and admits that anyone growing up in Somalia would like be traumatised. The questions by the defence prompt him to give a more complete picture of Somalia than his origianl account. When asked for a historic parallel of the situation in Somalia, Matthies mentions the 30-year war. He says that piracy is partially in the hand of the clans and that press gangs might be operating from Kenia.

The defence applies to hear the mother and sister of the accused whose brother was killed – decision reserved.

There had been a request by the court to the Dutch prosecution to provide the videos of the interrogations on the Tromp was declined because it would put the Dutch officers at risk.

And finally the application for bail for one of the younger accused was declined due to flight risk.

Prosecution investigates Dutch navy officer

State prosecutor Wilhelm Möllers announced on Wednesday that the prosecution have started investigations into charges of neglicence causing death against a Dutch navy officer. The officer has appeared several times as a witness in the case against the alleged pirates. During one hearing, he alleged that one of the accused had made extensive statements to the Dutch navy, which are classified as secret. He identified the accused in the court room. Shortly after, the brother of the accused was killed by gunmen in Somalia. The defence argues that the killing was a direct result of the officer's statements in court.

“Now you will die!”: Coast Guard attempt to drown asylum-seekers in Lesbos Greece

This Incident happend 2 years ago, but unfortunately still refugees are misstreated this way trying to enter Europe.Through Wikileaks in Greece there is now the certainty that even the lokal Waterpolice chief of Lesvos was involved in the misstreatment of the refugees.

 “Now you will die!”: Coast Guard attempt to drown asylum-seekers in Lesbos Greece

Source: http://libcom.org/news/now-you-will-die-coast-guard-attempt-drown-asylum-seekers-lesbos-03082009
Coast guard of Lesbos tied 12 Somali immigrants in an inflatable boat and then pierced its sides with knives in order to drown the helpless asylum seekers who were saved by passing cruise boat
The Coast Guard of Lesbos Island has been accused of attempting to mass murder 12 Somali asylum seekers, amongst which one woman. According to the case, on the 5th of July an Austrian European border Frontex Helicopter spotted an inflatable boat containing the 12 immigrants off Korakas Cape in Lesbos.
Upon the arrival of the Greek Coast Guard, the helicopter left, leaving the Greek cops to arrest the 12. The Coast Guard took the 12 out of their boat, tied their hands to their necks, beat them, and put them back in the inflatable boat before piercing its sides with knives. Then they let the boat go to the open sea telling the asylum seekers in English: “Now you will die!”.
Immediately the boat started getting water in, and sinking. The asylum seekers were saved from certain drowning when a British cruise boat passed by, saw them and saved them. The asylum seekers were then taken to Pagani detention camp on Lesbos from where they contacted the UN through a sympathetic lawyer. The Coast Guard adding insult to harm has called the UN law suit against them an act of provocation.
 26.08.09 Greece

17 May 2011

Summary of 04 May 2011

Judge Steinmetz seems to be aiming for a world record in declining objections from the defence. One of the accused is having a breakdown but the court-appointed doctor declares him fit for the hearing. Witness de Wind (Dutch navy officer) appears for the 5th time and finds out that he is now being charged: the defence have pressed charges of negligence leading to death against de Wind for his statement in court, in which he identified one of the accused has having made statements on board the Tromp. The brother of the accused was murdered in Somalia a few days later. The statements were classified as secret by the Dutch navy. The defence argues that De Wind should have known that him identifying the accused publicly in court would endanger his family, therefore his behaviour was grossly negligent.

Report from 20 April 2011

German Professor Volker Matthies appeared as an expert witness to explain the situation in Somalia. The fact that he hadn't been to Somalia in the last 20 years didn't stop him from explaining his theories about:
  • Piracy and the decline of the State
  • Piracy and the economic situation in Somalia
  • Piracy in relation to the international organisations and companies.

He declares that his information comes from NGOs and media reports. The judge explains that it had been very hard to find experts on the subject.
Everything Matthies said has been said many times and better in public talks on the subject. We therefore won't repeat it here.

Spring in the Park

"Friends of Subsistence Piracy" and "No-One is Illegal" invite you to a spring rally in the park (Planten un Blomen, entrance Jungiusstr.) outside the Hamburg Remand Prison on

Saturday, 22. May 2011, 3 pm - 6 pm

We want to help break the solitude of the Somali prisoners who are currently remanded there and show them that some people in Hamburg are not indifferent to their situation. Bring petanque, badminton and frisbees.

09 May 2011

A note on the Court reports

We have learned that the brother of one of the accused in Somalia has been murdered. It appears that the reason was a statement that Dutch navy officer De Wind made in court, naming one of the accused. This was reported in the media and the information travelled quickly to Somalia where an armed gang set upon the family of the accused and kidnapped and murdered his brother. The rest of his family have now fled their home.

For this reason we have decided to sometimes only give short summaries of the court proceedings and not to name any of the accused or their lawyers.

Report from 11 April 2011

Weapons live and in colour, another police witness, applications by the defence and court decisions.

First up, a display of weapons that were found on the Taipan and which had been shown on photos: RPGs, AK47s, pistols , ammunition and cell phones. Every item is held up for everyone to see, especially the cell phones, which appear to be very dangerous. No one has any questions so all the guns are packed away again, a process for which the court room has to be cleared.

Report from 4 April 2011

Today, the team leader of the special commando on board the Tromp gave evidence. He appeared under the pseudonym “Jeffrey” and was wearing make-up, a wig and a false moustache. The judges asked several questions regarding the type of ammunition that was used. He stated that only .50, 7.62 and 9mm were used.

Report from 30 March 2011

The commander of the Dutch helicopter, H.W.M. Veldhuizen gave evidence about the mission to board the Taipan. Lots of detailed questions were asked about the ratio of live ammunition to tracer ammunition, the range of the helicopter depending on air temperature and payload, etc. 3 communication channels existed between the Tromp, the helicopter and another surveillance plane. Some communication transcripts were read out. From that it appears that at some stage the helicopter was ordered to gain height because the Tromp was about to fire shots from a 40 mm gun at the Taipan.

28 April 2011

The best experts are sitting behind the glass in Court.

Mr Abdulahi  Mahamud Qalimow, political scientist from Somalia, leaving in Switzerland, attended the trial yesterday and could get an impression of the situation of the Somali people accused in Germany.
The security checkpoint on entering the court building, decided that the traditional shell he carries with him presented a danger to the justice system, so he had to let it wait for him coming out.

Then nobody could keep back his wish to greet the people form Somalia in this traditional way: In front of the Court building where the trial takes place.

26 April 2011

Exclusive Fotos of a cruise Dubai-Nizza traveling the same time and route like MS TAIPAN

A Grandpa happened to travel on a Cruise trip along the same waters as the Taipan.

Cruise boats are accompanied by military (here English) during a part of the trip.
 And our friend offered his visual impressions of the trip that are very diferent from the ones we get in court during the trial.

 The riches in Dubai,

 the fishermen, probably working specially so that tourists can take pictures,
 the fisherboats having changed usage and are now carrying tourists around the harbours,
or are already museum pieces,
 and the varietey of boats cruising through the blue waters.

small fisherboat versus

 containership, gives an impression of the different worlds meeting and sometimes clashing in these waters.

"Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints, enjoy your visit!" advise the locals
stop the militarisation of the seas!

reclaim the seas!