11 January 2011

Report from Day 9

Day 9 – 10 January 2011

“The boat is full” says the pirate to the accused.

The second officer of the Taipan is supposed to give evidence today. But before that, 2 of the defence lawyers indicate that their clients want to make a statement. The judge wants to read the accused their rights first, because there is a dispute about the admissibility of the statements the accused made when they were arrested and interrogated by the Dutch military. It is unclear whether those statements were taken in accordance with Dutch or German law. If they weren't then they can't be used in this trial and the judge points out that the accused shouldn't be affected by them. 

K speaks in Somali and every sentence is translated. He tells the court that his son is held hostage by a man he owes money and that he participated in the attack on the Taipan to be able to release his son. “I can only think of my son, my mind isn't really here”. He stops and doesn't want to say any more.

The second statement is read by a lawyer. Y. is a boat builder by trade and has been working as a paid fisherman, but there has been very little fish lately, so he hasn't gone out much. He asked one of the pirates who came to his village to buy provisions if he could join them but the pirate told him: the boat is full. Through a friend he managed to be taken on board eventually. He was given a bucket – his job was to pump out the bilge water. He then describes how they attacked the Taipan and his arrest.

Finally, the second officer of the Taipan, Igor S., a young man from the Ukraine, takes the stand. He describes the attack and how he radioed for help and the instructions the anti-piracy command had given them: not to defend themselves but to give themselves up. He says they had prepared molotov cocktails for their defence but decided not to use them. One important aspect of the trial is the question of whether a rocket propelled grenade was used in the attack. He thinks so, but can't be sure. He and the Dutch marines searched the hole ship afterwards but couldn't find the shells. Final question from the judge: were the pirates shooting to chase you away from the bridge or to injure or kill you? Answer: they were aiming at us, had they wanted to just show their weapons they would have shot in the air. 

Drawings of the drawings shown in court made by the 2nd officer shortly after the incident.Now he says that the disatnce between Taipan and Skiff was 200 meters, he only drew it closer because there was no more space on the paper.