30 January 2011

Report from Day 14

Day 14 – 26 January 2011

Hans Lodder, captain of the Dutch frigate “Tromp” gave evidence today. The examination took all day - we will try to summarize...

He was informed by a German aircraft that a German ship had been under attack, some 40 – 50 miles away. He sent his helicopter off to try and prevent a hijacking and then went in the direction as well. Before the helicopter had reached the Taipan, Lodder received news that the Taipan had been captured and that the crew were in the safe room. The dhow Rutrut, which was approaching, was chased away with warning shots. The Tromp circled the Taipan several times and tried to contact the pirates through long range acoustic devices (a form of super loud hailer). After that, Lodder contacted his command centre in Den Haag who, after two hours, gave permission to free the Taipan.

Report from Day 13

Day 13 – 24 January 2011

A testimony backfires

The day starts badly. The judge announces that he will read the decision on the bail application for Yousuf M. The defence counsels complain that – with the exception of Yousuf's lawyer – they  weren't informed. The judge's excuse is that there are only two fax machines in court and it wasn't possible to send the decision to all 20 counsel without blocking the machines for all other trials.

The bail application has been declined. Many reasons are mentioned, ranging from the accused's ability to distinguish right from wrong to the crime not just being attempted but actually carried out. His age also plays a role – the court assumes that he is more than 17 years old. A lot of it is justified with Yousuf's own testimony in court a week earlier. The caution that 'everything you say may be used against you' turns out to be true once more.

Report from Day 12

Day 12 – 19 January 2011

Today, one of the crew members from Sri Lanka is supposed to give evidence but the court hasn't been able to track him down. The German embassy in Colombo doesn't believe that the authorities there will pass the request on. The court will pay for his flight to Hamburg.

So without the main witness, the judge decides to deal with a number of other things. One subject is the bail application of the defendant Yousuf  M., which can't be decided without the report from the Youth Court Aid. Incidentally, it's representative, Mr Koopmann, happens to drop in that day. Koopmann says, he generally supports bail for the accused but comes up with a number of concerns about the accommodation (not in a regular youth home because of the bad company there). He has had a number of conversations with the accused (with an interpreter) in order to ascertain his ability to distinguish right from wrong. He points to the civil war that has been going on in Somalia for 20 years and the general lawlessness there. Therefore his culpability is questionable. In addition, he was urged by adults to participate, which would have been difficult to withstand. But because the general situation in Somalia can't be compared to Germany, he doesn't think he is competent to make a judgement. Instead he recommends to consult a youth psychiatrist who is also familiar with the situation in Somalia.

Then one of the accused complains that, despite 3 pairs of glasses, he can't see properly. He was given the glasses following a medical examination - without a translator. The judge decides to assign him a translator as a 'seeing aid' when pictures or documents are shown.

Court closes early due to everything being out of schedule. During the afternoon, the bail applications will be discussed in camera.

Report from Day 11

Day 11 – 17 January 2011

First, the second officer of the Taipan is giving more evidence. Some photos are shown on whoich he claims to see a person pointing a bazooka at the ship.

Then there is the bail application of the defence for the three youngest defendants. If bail is granted, there is the possibility for them to be housed in a council youth housing facility. Counsel Getzmann points out that they are in a catch-22 situation: in order for the bail application to be granted, they have to prove that the housing facility accepts them, which is only possible if they are not in prison. The application will be decided outside of the main hearings.

29 January 2011

Von Mogadischu nach München, von Asmara nach Athen 03.02.2011, 19.00 Uhr

Donnerstag, 03.02.2011, 19.00 UhrFabrik,Gängeviertel, Valentinskamp 39

Mr. X trafen wir auf dem No Border Camp auf Lesbos 2009.
Mr. X erzählt von seiner unwegsamen Reise von Somalia nach
Europa und durch Europa und dass ist nicht etwa geografisch gemeint. 
Nein, es bezeichnet die EU, die, unterstützt von der Grenzschutzagentur Frontex,
mit Mitteln die eher an ein Kriegszenario erinnern ihre Grenzen abzuschotten 
gegen Flüchtlinge, Migrant_innen und Arme. Nach dem Camp durchreiste Mr. X das weitere Europa.
Er hat Aufenthalt in Ungarn und darf sich sogar bewegen.  
Auch Aida Ibrahim war als antirassistische Aktivistin auf dem Camp mit dabei.
Sie ist später noch mehrere Male nach Athen gefahren um Interviews mit Flüchtlingen und Migrant_innen zu machen.
S. kommt aus Somalia. Er ist Asylbewerber in München. Da Asylbewerber in Deutschland der sogenannten Residenzpflicht unterworfen sind
und sich in dem ihnen zugewiesenen Landkreis aufzuhalten haben, häufig genug weit ab von jeglicher "Zivilisation", benötigt er eine Reisegenehmigung. Die hat er mit der Hilfe des bayerischen Flüchtlingsrats bekommen. 
Ausklang mit somalischer und eritreischer Musik
Weitere Veranstaltungen unter anderem zu Giftmüllverklappung, Fischraub 
und zur Situation der Seeleute sind geplant.

Sunday 23.01.2011 Park Planten und Blomen

Statement read out during the "Winter Picnic in the Park" outside the Hamburg remand prison on Sunday, 23 January 2011.

Hello from the Friends of Subsistence Piracy and No One Is Illegal! 

Greetings, especially to the Somali prisoners to show them that not everyone is indifferent to the fact that they were hauled to this city and put in prison in order to put them on trial according to German law.

We took a look at the reasons for piracy, and are asking ourselves: why aren't whose on trial who dump toxic waste along the coast of Somalia, who sell weapons on a large scale to the warring factions in the civil war, who deplete the fish stocks off Somalia with their floating fish factories. Those who - with German money - train Somali soldiers and police officers in Uganda, who then are sent off - with German guns - to literally fire up the conflict in Somalia. Those who can't deny training even children to fight and to kill. But people who simply take what they've been denied are hauled here via the Netherlands to be put on trial here.

We wonder why? So that we can all see what happens, should we get the idea to capture one of those ships ourselves?

In the Elbe river, or in the North Sea maybe? Or do they believe that the news spreads in Somalia and that the people there are so scared that they prefer to die of starvation?

Or is the aim to send a signal to all those who don't feel like being exploited without showing any resistance? Look at our war ships, look how far our strong arm reaches, obey or we will throw you in one of our prisons. This is where we put anyone who doesn't stick to our rules.

That is why we are visiting zou today and wish you lots of power and endurance. So we can meet one day in freedom - true freedom for all. Without walls, fences, detention camps and prisons. Where everyone can live wherever they want

27 January 2011

Afrique-europe-interact - Aktion in Bamako in front of french Embassy.

The painting shows the reasons that forced fishermen to become pirates or refugees
26.1.2011 In front of the french embassy in Bamako 200 persons participated in a protest rally against deportations from France. The protesters' aim was to draw attention to the fact that last week there were 6 Sans Papiers deported by the French government. On their way to the embassy, the participants chanted „Á bàs les frontierés, a bàs les frontierés!“ (down with all borders). A letter of protest was delivered to the embassador. Soon after, the malian police started to attack the protesters. The situation escalated when tear gas was fired into the peaceful protest. About 5 participants were lightly injured.


25 January 2011

Harbour tour 26.02. and Diskussion in the Seamensmission 10.03.

Seeleute, ihre Situation und die Auswirkungen der Piraterie

Donnerstag, 10. März 2011, 19.00 Uhr

Ein zentrales logistisches Rückgrat der Weltwirtschaft ist die Schifffahrtsindustrie. Oft wird deren Funktionieren ermöglicht durch Druck auf die Seeleute und ihre Arbeitsbedingungen. Im Rahmen des „support of seafarers’ dignity“ wird das Recht auf Unversehrtheit an Leib und Seele auch bei Schiffskaperungen betont. Wie jedoch diese Forderung so friedlich und nachhaltig als möglich durchgesetzt werden kann, ist umstritten. Heißt das, vor allem bei den Ursachen der Piraterie anzusetzen und diese zu beseitigen und welche Auswirkungen hat bewaffnete Abwehr auf die Seeleute? Darüber diskutieren wir mit Seemannsdiakon Jan Oltmanns, Leiter des Hamburger Seemannsclubs Duckdalben und Kapitän Peter Irminger bis 2010 Hochschule Bremen, jetzt in einer Hamburger Beratungsfirma tätig.
 Seemannsmission Hamburg-Altona, Große Elbstraße 132
Die Veranstaltung findet evtl. in englisch und deutsch statt, falls Seeleute anwesend sind.

Piraten!? Glorreiche Halunken oder Abgehängte dieser Welt?
Samstag, 26. Februar 2011, 15.00 Uhr

Was hat die Piraterie mit dem internationalen Fischraub vor Somalias Küste zu tun? Wer benutzt Somalias Gewässer als Mülldeponie? Was hat es mit den Waffen auf der gekaperten „MS Faina“ auf sich? Wer sind die jungen Männer aus Somalia? Und was bedeutet „Sicherheit“ am Golf von Aden? Im Strafverfahren vor dem Landesgericht Hamburg geht es um Juristisches. In Zusammenarbeit mit der  Hamburger Hafengruppe beleuchtet unsere 1,5 -stündige Hafenrundfahrt die politischen Hintergründe.

Anleger Vorsetzen/ beim roten Feuerschiff (U-Bahn Baumwall)Eintritt 10.- / erm. 8.- €

16 January 2011

Report from Day 10

Day 10 – 12 January 2011

We here more from the second officer, from one of the accused and from another 'expert' from the forensic institute.

The second officer from the Ukraine is back giving evidence. He is asked about the guns and keeps referring to a photo the captain made which he says clearly shows a person with a grenade launcher. The judge shows him the only photo he has that matches the description – but it's from far away and no details are visible. Strange how the human mind interprets things. But he says that there were a lot more photos on the ship's computer. The judge asks if the officer had a copy of them and the answer is a maybe. So the judge orders the photos to be brought to court.

It turns out the officer has been interviewed four times already – first by the Dutch military, then by German police in Dubai, then by the Dubai authorities and finally again by German police in the Ukraine.

13 January 2011

Sunday 23.01.2011, 13-16 Uhr- Parc Planten und Blomen

A cutltural rally outside the remand prison
especially for the Somali prisoners
Sunday, 23 January 2011, 1pm - 4pm
in Planten und Blomen Park
A winter picknick with coffeee, cake, barbequeue and mulled wine,
with Somali music, songs from and about prisons,
with open mike, so we don't have to shout as much to greet friends and relatives
In solidarity with the 10 Somali accused.

Eine Kulturelle Kundgebung vor dem Untersuchungsgefängnis
 besonders für die Somalischen Gefangenen
      Sonntag 23.1.2011 13.00-16.00 Uhr
            bei Planten und Blomen
 große Wiese zwischen Jungiusstrasse und
      Spielplatz an der Mauer des UG

Ein Winterpicknick mit Kaffee, Kuchen, Grill und Glühwein
mit Somalischen Hits und die besten Songs über und aus Gefängnissen
dieser Welt , mit Open mic, da brauchen wir alle nicht so schreien
wenn wir Freunde und Verwandte grüßen.

In Solidarität mit den 10 Somalischen Angeklagten im Piratenprozess vor
dem Hamburger Landgericht
Kommt vorbei und bringt Kuchen und Kekse mit, und gibt diese Einladung weiter...

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. 

07 January 2011

Report from Day 8

Report from Day 8 – 05 January 2011

“None of us who sit here know how old they are – they weren't present at their birth”.
Forensic Expert Witness Dr. Helmke, University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE), Hamburg.

Today, we hear again from the two expert witnesses, Dr. Helmke and Prof Furhmann, who already gave evidence on day 3 and day 5, as well as from Captain Eggers.

05 January 2011

Interview with Somali Refugee

Everything I tell you happened in front of me, not in history!

A. – Refugee in Germany from Somalia 
I will give you some information about my country and some other one concerning pirates.

The western countries, they are cause it, to be Somalian pirates.

Now I have some concern about Somali pirates. Now I will speak about pirates because some Somali pirates, they catch English people, man and woman who are so old. But Somali society they are fighting till today for their freedom. And really, we succeed that they are free. All the community send messages to let them free, then we win! This is something great for us, because the pirates they kill our dignity.
But the causes, as I believe, and not only me, but also other Somali people, the western countries they are causing it, to be Somalian pirates.
First there is a lot of fishers coming from western countries. Not only western, the whole world wide, they come to our sea and they took everything.


04 January 2011

Report from Day 7

Day 7 – 03 January 2011 - As long as it takes to boil an egg

Today, the captain of the MV Taipan, Dierk Eggers was questioned first by the judge and then by the defence counsel.

First, the judge asks about the trip and the ship's cargo. It turns out that Eggers only took over the ship in Djibouti because the original captain didn't want to travel into the danger zone. He hadn't known which route the ship was going to take. At the time, the Taipan was sailing under German flag. Shortly after the incident, this was changed and it is now sailing under Liberian flag, because under Liberian law it is allowed to have armed guards on board, which is prohibited for German ships.

Eggers describes how they had passed the Gulf of Aden the day before in a convoy, accompanied by military ships. Still, they witnessed on the radio how one ship was attacked.

The judge wants to know about the 'safe room' to which the crew retreated. Then he asks about the actual attacks – what weapons did the attackers have? Eggers states that he doesn't have a clue about guns, one of the reasons he went to sea was to avoid military service. For how long were they under fire? “For as long as it takes to boil an egg – 5 minutes”.

We notice how he avoids the term 'pirates' – instead he uses the old fashioned word 'freebooter'.

Then the judge asks about the personal impact the incident has had on Eggers and the crew. Did he take a break after arriving in Dubai? “No, the only place where I can relax is the ship”. Has it impacted his life? No, actually it's been a good experience because he realised how calm he could remain in a situation like that. Post traumatic stress? The mechanic didn't sleep well for a while.

Next, one of the defence lawyers cross examines. She wants to know who decides about the route the ship takes. The captain does, with recommendations from the European anti-piracy operation ATALANTA. “More than recommendations”, Eggers says.

Then the subject is the Dutch crew who rescued them, but it appears that the exchange between them and Eggers was rather limited. “The commander told me he had arrested them”. He wasn't questioned by anyone until he arrived in Dubai, where the German Federal Criminal Office interviewed him.

Asked, if he could think of any improvements that could be made to avoid attacks he suggests to have a Muslim priest on board to talk to the attackers.

02 January 2011

Age Determination

Disputes about the process of “Age Determination” have a history in Hamburg. The process has been used for decades to ascertain if refugees arriving in Germany are minors (people under the age of 18) or adults. This distinction is important from a legal perspective: minors are granted a number of protections that adults aren't. Minors have a right to attend school and cannot be deported as easily as adults (according to the Dublin II agreement, adult refugees can immediately be deported back to the country of their first entry into the EU). The state has an obligation to care for children, which it doesn't have for adults.

The process of 'age determination' is therefore, in reality, one of 'making people older'.