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.
Instead two other defendants make statements – this time without incriminating other co-defendants. The lawyer of one defendant asks for an interruption because of the medical condition of his client. But the judges decides that he is fit for trial. The defendant says:

“You, Ladies and Gentlemen judges, prosecutors and lawyers, cannot imagine what it is like living in Somalia today. It will remain unimaginable because you live in paradise and we live in hell.”
If this was a theatre play, the director would be accused of over-doing it. The accused then explains how he, as a child, found his parents shot dead, how he himself was injureed by a bomb and how he joined the Ethiopian militia. And how he has lost all hope.

The lawyer follows up with a set of applications to hear expert witnesses on the mental health situation of young people in Somalia, as well his client's wife.

A second defendant makes a statement. He tells the story of how he too witnessed his parents death on the way home from a market. How he lived with his uncle, who was a fisherman and how he himself became a fisher, although he had always wanted to attend school. In 2004, the tsunami came and they lost their boats and nets. After that he had to look for food in the streets. He describes Mogadishu as hell – fighting everywhere and dead bodies littering the streets. After a while, al-Shabaab controlled the market, where he was looking for work or food, and men without beard weren't allowed. During all this he tried to bring up his son and teach him to read and write.
“Whenever I have a meal here in prison, I feel ashamed because I have food and drink”