23 December 2012

Das Urteil - Teil 5

Teil 5 der mündlichen Urteilsverkündung

Richter: Jetzt zu Ihnen und zu dem, was Sie uns erzählt haben, Ihre zum Teil längeren, zum Teil kürzeren Einlassungen zum Tatgeschehen. Oder besser gesagt: was alles offen geblieben ist. Selbstverständlich haben wir Sie darüber belehrt, dass Sie ein Recht darauf haben schweigen zu können. Dass Sie auch nur Teile erzählen können. Wenn ein Angeklagter uns belügt, hat das keine Konsequenzen. Jedenfalls aus Ihren Angaben kann das Gericht keine Geständnisse ersehen, die das Tatgeschehen auch nur annähernd oder gar umfangreich beschreiben würden.

Sie Herr CM haben erklärt: Sie haben Leute kennengelernt, sind als Letzter an Bord gegangen, hatten die Aufgabe das Schiff zu bewachen. Ob Sie eine Waffe hatten, was überhaupt gemacht wurde, das ist nicht ersichtlich. Heute ist lediglich noch dazugekommen, dass Sie alle auf der Brücke zusammengekommen sind.

17 December 2012

Das Urteil - Teil 4

Teil 4 der mündlichen Urteilsverkündung

Richter: Nun zur wirtschaftlichen und politischen Lage in Somalia. Es ist zwingend erforderlich, unsere Bewertung  auch auf die wirtschaftliche und politische Lage zu erstrecken. Allerdings waren die Versuche des Gerichts, dies in einem frühen Stadium unter Einbeziehung von Staatsanwaltschaft und Verteidigung zu tun, sagen wir mal: nicht zielführend. Obwohl insbesondere von Seiten der Verteidigung immer wieder darauf hingewiesen wurde, war es nicht erfolgreich. Wir haben dann die Sachverständigen Dr. Matthies und Dr. Hansen ausfindig gemacht und hier gehört. Das war aus unserer Sicht dann ausreichend, um hier eine Einschätzung vornehmen zu können.
Dass nicht jeder nachfühlen kann, wie die Lage in Somalia ist, mag sein. Fest steht, dass 2009 und 2010 Somalia davon geprägt war und noch ist, dass über 20 Jahre Bürgerkrieg das Land verwüstet haben, die Strukturen verfallen sind und der Lebensalltag in Somalia von Gewalt und Not geprägt ist. Somalia gehört zu den ärmsten Ländern der Welt. Es gibt infolgedessen eine große Zahl an Opfern und Flüchtlingen.

copyright: Jason Florio-Somalia Portraits will be soon shown in Hamburg
 In Somaliland ist die Situation noch am ehesten stabil. Dies gilt aber nicht für den Rest des Landes und einen Teil von Puntland. Die gesellschaftliche Situation ist geprägt durch die Aneignung fremder Güter, von den Sachverständigen wurde dies „Kriegsökonomie“ genannt, durch erpresserischen Menschenhandel, Zweckentfremdung, Wegezölle und Korruption.

Seit 2008 ist Kriegsökonomie an der Tagesordnung. Der Aktionsradius der Piraten hat sich weit ausgedehnt bis Madagaskar. In 2010 hat es ungefähr 220 Angriffe gegeben, über 1.000 Seeleute gerieten als Geiseln in Gefangenschaft, erpresste Lösesummen betrugen 5 Millionen US-Dollar pro Schiff. Die Sachverständigen konnten Auskünfte zu den Ursachen der Piraterie geben. Da sind einmal der staatliche Zerfall Somalias in den 90er Jahren, die Raubfischerei und die Verklappung von Giftmüll. Das mag so sein für die Anfangszeit, was die Sachverständigen auch betont haben, dass gerade vor diesem Hintergrund die Clans sich massiv daran beteiligt und bereichert haben. Sie haben zum Beispiel Lizenzen an ausländische Unternehmen vergeben. Deshalb kann der immer wiederkehrende Hinweis auf Überfischung und Giftmüll im Jahre 2010 nicht mehr vollständig als Begründung herhalten.



 Inzwischen haben sich laut Sachverständigen-Angaben die Fischgründe in Puntland auch wieder erholt. Es werden wieder Lizenzen vergeben. Also: Die Behauptung, arme somalische Fischer hätten hier keine andere Wahl, das ist nach unserer Auffassung nicht zutreffend. Galkayo, Eyl, Hobyo und Galagad sind Hochburgen der Piraterie. Führen wir uns doch mal vor Augen, was dazu notwendig ist. Es gibt eine Vielzahl von Dingen zu organisieren: Boote, technische Mittel, Waffen, die Rekrutierung des Angriffstrupps, darunter Personen, die mit modernen Schiffen vertraut sein müssen, irgendeiner, der die internationalen Lösegeldverhandlungen führen können muss.

c: Jason Florio -Somalia Portraits
Piraterie hat die Züge internationaler Kriminalität angenommen. Es sind Geschäftsmodelle. Und das ist zu sehen vor dem Hintergrund, dass es lockt, dem allgemein verbreiteten Elend zu entkommen, und dass es Männer gibt, die bereit sind ihr Leben zu riskieren um teilzunehmen. Das ist das, was die Kammer sicher feststellen kann.

15 December 2012

Das Urteil - Teil 3

Teil 3 der mündlichen Urteilsverkündung
 
Richter: Es muss festgehalten werden, dass die Befreiungsaktion außerordentlich professionell verlief. Es sind alle heil dabei rausgekommen.  Die Reparatur hat 600.000 Euro gekostet, insgesamt hatte die Reederei Komrowski einen Schaden von zirka einer Million Euro, wobei erwähnt werden muss, dass den Großteil davon die Versicherung beglichen haben dürfte.
Sie waren dann ungefähr neun Tage lang an Bord der Fregatte Tromp, die erst nach Salala gefahren ist, um den verletzten Soldaten dort an Land zu bringen um ihn medizinisch versorgen zu lassen und Sie dann nach Djibouti gebracht hat. Von dort sind Sie dann in die Niederlande ausgeflogen und von dort an Deutschland ausgeliefert worden.

Zur Vorgeschichte ist noch zu sagen: Die gekaperte Dhau HudHud, die als sogenanntes Mutterschiff diente, war im März 2012 mit 12 indischen Besatzungsmitgliedern an Bord von 12 bis 16 Somaliern unter Einsatz dreier Schnellboote gekapert worden. Es liegt nahe, dass einige von Ihnen daran schon beteiligt waren. Diesbezüglich hat die Kammer aber nichts Genaues feststellen können, auch nicht, ob Sie schon an weiteren Kaperungen beteiligt waren. Jedenfalls wurde die HudHud von der deutschen Fregatte Emden angetroffen. Das Manöver wurde aber abgebrochen, weil damit gedroht worden war, der Kaptän und die Mannschaft an Bord der HudHud würden getötet werden. Die Route der HudHud von März bis April 2010 ist nicht bekannt, aber es steht fest, dass sie in Gulub angelegt hat um Treibstoff zu tanken. Es ist durchaus möglich, dass Sie, YK und CM, wie von Ihnen behauptet, erst dort an Bord der HudHud gegangen sind. Wann genau die anderen acht sich dort eingefunden hatten, darüber können wir keine sichere Feststellung treffen. Auch nicht, ob jemand von Ihnen verantwortlich dafür ist, dass die Besatzung der HudHud als Geiseln genommen worden ist.

13 December 2012

Das Urteil - Teil 2

Teil 2 der mündlichen Urteilsverkündung

Richter: Und nun zur MV Taipan, MV steht für Motor Vessel. Der Heimathafen der Taipan ist Hamburg. Am 4.April 2010, dem Ostermontag, befand sich die Taipan zwölf Grad nördlicher Breite und sechs Grad östlicher Länge und damit 500 Seemeilen von der somalischen Küste entfernt,  mitten im Indischen Ozean. Die Taipan war auf dem Weg von Haifa nach Mombasa, das ist in Kenia.


komischer weise ist auf diese welt karte kein einziges schiff in die nähe von somalia zu sehen
 http://www.marinetraffic.com
Weil es vor der Küste Piraterie gab, fuhr die Taipan nicht an der Küste vorbei, sondern machte einen großen Bogen,  um in den Zielhafen zu kommen. Einen Tag vorher hatte die Taipan den Schutzkorridor, wo sie von der Atalanta-Einsatzflotte, die dort die Handelswege internationaler Schiffe sichert, eskortiert worden war, verlassen. Der polnische Kapitän  war in Djibouti von Bord gegangen. Er hatte es abgelehnt, weiter durch die gefährlichen Gewässer zu fahren. Kurzfristig hatte Kapitän Eggers das Kommando übernommen. Die Besatzung bekam die doppelte Heuer.
Es waren vorher schon Schutzmaßnahmen ergriffen worden. Bei einem Angriff sollte die Mannschaft sich in einen verborgenen Schutzraum, einen Sicherheitsraum, die sogenannte Zitadelle, zurückziehen. Das war auch vorher geübt worden. Notrufe waren vorbereitet und Rudermanöver geübt worden, die das Entern verhindern sollten. Es war Stacheldraht angebracht worden, um zu verhindern, dass die Seeräuber an Deck kommen, ebenso Wasserschläuche und Wasserdüsen, mit denen auf die Schnellboote gezielt und sie damit vertrieben werden sollten.

Sie, die zehn Angeklagten, befanden sich zur selben Zeit im selben Seegebiet zwischen Afrika und Indien an Bord der Dhau HudHud. Auf ihr befanden sich zwölf indische Besatzungsmitglieder und sie fuhr unter der Flagge der Komoren. Sie war zuvor  gekapert und die Besatzung als Geiseln genommen worden. Das Kommando an Bord hatte Dhaghaweyne, was „der mit den großen Ohren“ heißt. Von dort aus starteten Sie zu dem Angriff auf die Taipan. Die Ausrüstung für den Angriff bestand aus zwei aus Kunststoff bestehenden Booten, sogenannte „Skiffs“, sie wurden von der Dhau HudHud zu Wasser gelassen, zwei Enterleitern, zwei RPGs, sogenannte Panzerfäuste, fünf Schnellfeuergewehren, sogenannte „Kalaschnikows“, zwei Pistolen, zwei Messern, einem Kricketschläger, einem Turaya- Telefon und zwei Nokia-Mobiltelefonen.

Auf Befahl Dhaghaweynes startete der Angriff auf die Taipan von der Dhau HudHud aus. In beiden Skiffs waren jeweils fünf Männer. Wer dabei mit wem in welchem Skiff war, kann nicht mit der erforderlichen Sicherheit gesagt werden. Ebenso wenig kann mit Sicherheit gesagt werden, wer die Kommandogewalt von Dhaghaweyne dann übernommen hat, oder wer welche Waffe hatte. Das alles kann nicht mit Sicherheit gesagt werden.

Als die Dhau auftauchte, wurde sie von der Besatzung der Taipan zunächst als unverdächtig eingeschätzt. Dann entdeckte man aber die Wasserlinien der Skiffs. Daraufhin versuchte Kapitän Eggers durch einen Kurswechsel  und die Erhöhung der Geschwindigkeit sich nach Süden zu entfernen. Die Skiffs fuhren aber mit ca. zwanzig Knoten auf die Taipan zu, woraufhin an Bord der Taipan Alarm ausgelöst wurde. Von der 15köpfigen Besatzung begaben sich 12 in den Sicherheitsraum. Auf der Brücke blieben nur Kapitän Eggers, der Zweite Offizier Sukoverkov und der Matrose Akmeemane zurück und setzten auch  verschiedene Notrufe ab, darunter einen an die Marineeinheit „Atalanta“. Als die Skiffs dennoch die Taipan erreichten, hintereinander und versetzt zueinander mit einem entsprechenden Abstand zwischen sich, feuerte Kapitän Eggers zwei Leuchtraketen ab, die die Schiffe jedoch verfehlten. Sukoverkov betätigte die Schiffshupe. Aber all das half nicht. Vom ersten Skiff aus wurde das Feuer auf die Taipan eröffnet.

Dafür tragen alle zehn die Verantwortung. Wer im Einzelnen womit geschossen hat, weiß die Kammer nicht. Aber dass aus einer Entfernung von ca. 10 Metern in Richtung Taipan – und da besonders Richtung Aufbauten und Brücke geschossen wurde. Mehrere Geschosse durchschlugen die Fenster der Brücke und die Stahlwand. Außerdem wurde noch der Bordcomputer beschädigt. Die auf der Brücke Verbliebenen wussten, dass sie sich in akuter Lebensgefahr befinden. Aber wer da womit geschossen hatte, ließ sich nicht feststellen. Es steht auch fest, dass nicht in der Absicht jemanden zu verletzen oder zu töten geschossen wurde. Die Kammer geht davon aus, dass es den Angreifern nur darum ging die Besatzung einzuschüchtern.

In einem der beiden Skiffs hat einer von Ihnen mit einer Panzerfaust auf die Taipan gezielt, aber ob sie wirklich abgeschossen wurde, konnte nicht bewiesen werden. 

Den drei Letzten der Besatzung ist es  daraufhin geglückt auch in den Sicherheitsraum zu fliehen. Das Schiff war umgestellt auf Autopilot und fuhr weiter mit Höchstgeschwindigkeit. Nachdem sich alle Mitglieder der Besatzung im Sicherheitsraum befanden, verschlossen sie dessen Stahltür. Ich möchte hier einmal die Liste der gesamten Mannschaft vorlesen, damit die Namen wenigstens einmal alle genannt werden:

[Der Richter nennt die Namen der Besatzungsmitglieder und deren Funktionen. Leider konnten nicht alle Namen mitgeschrieben werden]

Es war ihnen bekannt, dass die niederländische Fregatte „Tromp“ in der Nähe war, man wusste aber nicht, wie lange sie brauchen würde um zu Hilfe zu kommen.

Als die Mannschaft im Sicherheitsraum war, haben Sie die Taipan geentert. Dabei sind die Skiffs mehrfach abgedriftet, eins wäre sogar beinahe gekentert, aber letztlich sind Sie mit der Enterleiter an Bord gekommen. Sie haben dann die Besatzung gesucht und dabei Türen gewaltsam geöffnet. Sie haben auch nach Lebensmitteln gesucht. Dabei waren Sie alle aktiv auf der Taipan. Mindestens einer von Ihnen hat die GPS-Anlage außer Kraft gesetzt, was die Ortung des Schiffes erschwert hat. Mindestens einer von Ihnen muss in der Lage gewesen sein, ein modernes Containerschiff zu steuern. Die Geschwindigkeit wurde ein Mal reduziert, dann wieder erhöht. Die Automatik wurde abgeschaltet und die Handsteuerung eingeschaltet. Wer von Ihnen im Einzelnen dazu fähig gewesen ist, haben wir nicht herausfinden können.

Die Besatzung der Taipan konnte das alles über ein Computerbild verfolgen. Kapitän Eggers hat dann das sogenannte Blackout gemacht. Das betraf auch den Sicherheitsraum. Von da an waren sie dort von der Außenwelt abgeschnitten. Es herrschte eine große Hitze, der danebenliegende Maschinenraum hat auch noch Wärme abgestrahlt.  Es gab nur Trinkwasser, sanitäre Anlagen waren keine vorhanden. Die Besatzung wurde dann von Kapitän Eggers angewiesen, sich auf den Boden zu legen und zu schweigen. Die Mannschaft hatte ohne das Wissen des Kapitäns zehn Flaschen mit Treibstoff gefüllt, sogenannte Molotowcocktails, mit denen sie sich in dem Fall, dass sie entdeckt worden wären, verteidigen wollten. Dazu ist es dann nicht gekommen, da die Mannschaft unentdeckt blieb bis zum Eintreffen der niederländischen Marine.

Jetzt komm ich zur Tromp. Sie ist eine königlich niederländische Fregatte im Rahmen der Europäischen Militärmission Atalanta und war ungefähr 50 Seemeilen von der Taipan entfernt. Eigentlich war sie unterwegs um die Dhau HudHud ausfindig zu machen. Das bundesdeutsche Aufklärungsflugzeug vom Typ „Orion“ unterstützte die Tromp dabei in der Luft. Da sich die Taipan außerhalb des Einsatzgebietes von Atalanta befand, erteilte der Kapitän der Tromp, Lodder, einen nationalen Einsatzbefehl, den er von der holländischen Regierung erhalten hatte,  nachdem diese Rücksprache mit der deutschen Regierung genommen hatte. Da hatten Sie noch keinen Kontakt zur Mannschaft. Kapitän Lodder hat dann den Einsatz einer Unit Intervention M..(UIM) befohlen. Die HudHud näherte sich erst der Taipan, drehte dann aber ab, also die Piraten, als sie von der Tromp mit drei Schüssen vor den Bug getroffen wurde. Das heißt, Ihr Anführer Dhaghaweyne hat Sie Ihrem Schicksal überlassen! Die Tromp umrundetet die Taipan zwei bis dreimal, zunächst außerhalb der Reichweite der Waffen. Man hat besonders starke Lautsprecher aufgedreht und Sie aufgefordert, die Taipan zu verlassen und in Ihre Boote zurückzugehen. Das müssen Sie verstanden haben, weil es auf Englisch und Somalisch war. Aber Sie haben das nicht gemacht. Daraufhin erteilte Kapitän Lodder den Einsatzbefehl des einen von den zwei Hubschraubern an Bord der Tromp. Sicher ist, dass von Ihnen zu dem Zeitpunkt auf die Tromp geschossen wurde. Von der Tromp wurde daraufhin zurückgeschossen, insbesondere auf die Brücke und die Aufbauten der Taipan  - als Feuerschutz für den Hubschrauber. Dann wurde vom Hubschrauber aus geschossen. Sie sollten gezwungen werden, den Hubschrauber nicht angreifen zu können auch während das UIM-Team sich dann in einer sogenannten Fast-Rope-Action abseilte. Dabei stürzte einer der Soldaten und verletzte sich. Er konnte aber weiterlaufen. Von Ihnen wurde zu dem Zeitpunkt nicht mehr zurückgeschossen.

Zunächst haben sich sechs von Ihnen ergeben, dann zwei weitere. Alle acht waren unbewaffnet und leisteten keinen Widerstand. Sie, Herr KD haben den Soldaten mitgeteilt, dass sich noch zwei auf der Brücke befanden und Sie haben dafür gesorgt, dass sie sich auch unbewaffnet ergaben.

Das Ganze hat ungefähr zwei Stunden gedauert. Auch die niederländischen Soldaten haben die Besatzung gesucht. Die Besatzung konnte die Lage außerhalb des Sicherheitsraumes aber nicht einschätzen. Der Zeuge Eggers hat dann einen niederländischen Wortwechsel gehört. Das war ungefähr viereinhalb Stunden, nachdem der Aufenthalt im Sicherheitsraum begonnen hatte.

Es ist auch von Bedeutung, dass Sie ein Schiff beschädigt haben, das einen Wert von mindestens 20 Millionen Euro hatte.

Über die Ladung und den Wert der Ladung wissen wir nichts. Es wurde zum Teil durch Ihren Beschuss, zum Teil durch den Beschuss der niederländischen Marine beschädigt. Darauf kommt es aber nicht an, da es vorher von Ihnen gekapert worden war.

12 December 2012

Die Urteilsbegründung eine Art Adventskalender

We are documenting the judge's sentencing from October 19 in German. This has been made possible by the meticulous work of one of the trial observers who noted down every word said.We might do an English translation at a later stage (the sentencing went on for four hours, so it's a substantial amount of work). The written verdict is expected to be released by the court early next year.

Da die schriftliche Urteilsbegründung erst 2013 erscheinen wird, dokumentieren wir hier die mündliche Urteilsbegründung von Richter Steinmetz am 19.10.12. Dies ist möglich dank der unermüdlichen Arbeit einer Prozessbeobachterin, die Steinmetz' Vortrag mitgeschrieben hat. Trotz grösstmöglicher Sorgfalt kann natürlich nicht ausgeschlossen werden, dass einzelne Worte untergegangen oder missverstanden wurden.

Die Urteilsbegründung dauerte vier Stunden. Wir werden sie daher in kleinen Häppchen veröffentlichen als eine Art Adventskalender, um die Wartezeit auf das schriftliche Urteil zu verkürzen.




105. Verhandlungstag, 19.10.2012, Piratenprozess, Protokoll Teil II: Das Urteil

[Nach einer Pause von 12.00 Uhr bis 14.07 (da kommen die Gefangenen aus ihrem Verlies in den Saal, als Letzter wie immer der „Kronzeuge“) beginnt Richter Steinmetz im Stehen mit der Urteilsverkündung um 14.09 Uhr. Das Gericht, die 10 Angeklagten, die 20 VerteidigerInnen, die zwei Dolmetscher, das heute zahlreich erschienene Publikum und die plötzlich auch wieder zahlreich erschienene Presse bleiben ebenfalls stehen.]


Richter: Im Namen des Volkes ergeht das Urteil gegen die Angeklagten. Sie sind schuldig des Angriffs auf den Seeverkehr und des erpresserischen Menschenraubs.

Angeklagter CM: Die Kammer verurteilt Sie zu sechs Jahren und drei Monaten.
Angeklagter AM: Die Kammer verurteilt Sie zu sieben Jahren.
Angeklagter AS: Die Kammer verurteilt Sie zu zwei Jahren.
Angeklagter AKD: Die Kammer verurteilt Sie zu sieben Jahren
Angeklagter KD: Die Kammer verurteilt Sie zu sechs Jahren.
Angeklagter YK: Die Kammer verurteilt Sie zu sechs Jahren und fünf Monaten.
Angeklagter TW: Die Kammer verurteilt Sie zu  sechs Jahren und zehn Monaten.
Angeklagter AA: Die Kammer verurteilt Sie zu sieben Jahren.
Angeklagter AW: Die Kammer verurteilt Sie zu zwei Jahren.
Angeklagter YM: Die Kammer verurteilt Sie zu zwei Jahren.

Die Asservate [er nennt mehrere Nummernblöcke „von… bis“] werden eingezogen. Der Freiheitsentzug in den Niederlanden wird eins zu eins auf die Strafe angerechnet, ebenso die bereits verbüßte U-Haft hier. Die Kosten des Verfahrens tragen die Angeklagten CM, AM, AKD, KD, YK, TW und AA.

Nehmen Sie, bitte Platz!
[Alle setzen sich]

Richter: So, meine Herren Angeklagten. Das ist der Tenor dessen, was das Gericht für Sie für angemessen hält. Die Begründung erfolgt zunächst mündlich. Sie wird ziemlich umfangreich. Sie wird voraussichtlich mehrere Stunden in Anspruch nehmen. Nach zwei Stunden etwa werde ich eine Pause machen, damit die Konzentration erhalten bleibt. Ich werde auch, was ich zuvor noch nie gemacht habe, und was, soweit ich weiß, in Hamburg unüblich ist, sagen, wie das Urteil gegliedert ist. Zunächst werde ich etwas sagen zu dem Angriff auf die Taipan, dann etwas zur Situation in Somalia, danach etwas zu den Einlassungen der Angeklagten und zu den Beweisen. Dann werde ich noch auf die deutsche Rechtslage eingehen und die vorgebrachten Gründe für Verfahrenshindernisse und zum Schluss dann noch etwas zur rechtlichen Bewertung des Tatgeschehens sagen.

Erstens: Sie haben dem Tenor entnommen, dass die Kammer der sicheren Überzeugung ist, dass es sich bei dem bewaffneten Angriff auf die Taipan um eine geplante Tat handelt, dass keiner gezwungen wurde und  für jeden von Ihnen eine fest bestimmte Aufgabe da war. Und die Kammer ist der Ansicht, dass Sie alle Kenntnisse der Aufgaben der anderen gehabt haben. Die Kammer geht auch davon aus, dass Ihnen allen der Tatplan, die Planung bekannt war und wie verfahren werden sollte, wenn das Ziel des Angriffs erfolgreich gewesen wäre: Nachdem Sie das Schiff, die Taipan, in Ihre Gewalt gebracht hatten, sollte es nach Somalia gesteuert werden und der Plan war, ein sehr hohes Lösegeld von über einer Million US-Dollar zu erpressen. Jeder von Ihnen erwartete einen Anteil davon, wenn auch zum Teil nur in geringer Höhe. Für sechs von Ihnen hat die Verteidigung einen Freispruch oder die Einstellung des Verfahrens beantragt. Die Würdigung der Argumente durch die Kammer ergibt dies nicht. Sie alle sind nach Ansicht der Kammer voll strafrechtlich verantwortlich. Ihrer Behauptung, Herr W., sie seien ein dreizehnjähriges Kind zur Tatzeit gewesen, kann die Kammer nicht folgen. Die Altersgutachten ergaben, dass Sie mindestens 18 Jahre alt sind. Sieben von Ihnen sind über einundzwanzig Jahre alt. YM war siebzehn und AS 18 Jahre zur Tatzeit. Sie sind Heranwachsende.


07 December 2012

Wishes

                                                                     Our wishes...

...to the somali prisoners in hamburg:
to have strong contacts to the outside world and to be able to support their families
and most of all:
freedom soon!

to the somali pirates:
to find new ways to make a living, without having to take hostages!

to all hostages:
freedom  now!

we want a world of equal rights and chances for all
and freedom.

in solidarity
reclaim-the-seas.blogspot.com

23 November 2012

Appeals and prison shifts

Five of the nine Somali who had lodged an appeal against the verdict have retracted their appeals.

This leaves four who have appealed. Among them two of the three under-age who are free.
The other two adult prisoners remain in the Holstenglacis remand prison while their appeals are heard.

The four other prisoners have been moved all to Fuhlsbüttel  prison in Hamburg.




                                                              For letter writing  and visits

.........       (name)
JVA FUHLSBÜTTEL
Suhrenkamp 92
22335 Hamburg
GERMANY




The Captain and his Pirate


           The Captain and his Pirate

This new documentary film by German film makers Stefanie Brockhaus and Andy Wolff has premiered at the Leipzig Documetary Film Festival. Hopefully, it will be shown in Hamburg soon.

The film traces the capture of the container ship Hansa Stavanger in 2009, following the ship's captain Krzysztof Kotiuk and the Somali pirate leader. The ship owners refused to negotiate and so Kotiuk and his crew spent 122 agonising days in the hands of the pirates.

The lives described here are far removed from the glamorous lives of the "Pirates of the Caribbean". Instead they are lives of hardship and trauma, in a clash of worlds that couldn't be further apart.
foto: DOK Film Leipzig
 The film shows the mutual respect the two antagonists have for each other and the conflicting roles they find themselves in, raising questions of morality of a world that allows events like this to happen. 

The film is in various languages with English subtitles.
  

21 November 2012

A Farcical Trial

Even in New Zealand the trial is talked about. The following are comments on a public meeting held there recently.

Observations of a farcical trial in Hamburg, where the might of Germany and its plodding jurisprudence was set the challenge of annihilating a handful of Somali pirates.

The underlying theme of the evening comes as a paraphrasing of what Slavoj Zizek said in a public discussion with Assange: “let’s not be glib. You are a terrorist, technically, yes this is true. But, and this is my point: if you are a terrorist, then my god, what are they?!”

Lets unpack that: the Somali men and youths sentenced to between seven and two years in jail are pirates. The beginning of this modern piracy of the Horn of Africa started as a way to claim some payment from international fishing ships plundering the region. But the pirates have become more sophisticated and have moved outside of the zone that once would have been called Somalia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (SEEZ). Apparently a country loses this zone when they no longer have a functioning government. And into these empty oceans came the plunderers of marine life and the dumpers of chemicals and waste too costly to dump elsewhere. There are documented cases of this reported in the UN. What are these companies compared to the Somali pirates? What are they compared to the Somalis being tried under terrorism laws right now in Italy? We’re going to need a bigger word, a more villainous noun.

The evening was full of brilliant contrasts. Compare the Somali man who was blackmailed by a debt to a petty merchant and who ended up in Hamburg with the might of the Nato fleets patrolling the waters off the cape. Compare the relatively functioning democratic territory of Somaliland, unrecognised in international law, with the embattled state of Somalia, barely controlling Mogadishu but ceaselessly favoured by the international community. Compare the Somali youths in limbo now that they have served their two years, but have no passport to get home, there are no direct flights (and no other countries to allow them on flights) and the liberal sentiments in Germany that mean no-one can be deported to a country involved in a civil war with the carefree parting of the waters as ships cruise past the Horn of Africa towards the Suez canal, parting the ocean with all the ease fantasised about by the proponents of free trade.


07 November 2012

All Go for Atalanta

A few comments regarding the verdict.

“I am feeling a great injustice,” said one of the defendants. “The freedom of international maritime trade is affected,” said the judge.

The 'Piracy' trial against 10 Somali that has been dragging on for almost two years finally came to an end on October 19, 2012. After 105 trial days, the verdict came rather suddenly.

Two days earlier, after the defendants had had their 'last words', one of them announced having another witness. The witness was supposed to prove that another defendant who had promoted himself to the status of 'crown witness' was in fact lying. But, as with most applications made by the defence, this one was also declined.

Then, for the sixth time, the judge declared the trial to be over and proceeded to announce the verdict.

He spoke calmly for four hours, after a lengthy break so that the media and the chief prosecutor could attend the performance. Guilty of kidnapping and armed assault on a shipping vessel.

Time and place of the incident: April, 2010, 500 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia on board the German-flagged container ship MV Taipan.

The sentences: two years imprisonment for the under-age defendants, who have already served two years in remand and are therefore free. Between six and seven years for the others. Even the 'crown witness' was given six years, despite the prosecution having asked for a discount of four years for him compared to the others.

The detailed reasoning of the corroborating and the exonerating circumstances for each defendant sounded like a summing up of the criticism that observers had voiced all along: the destruction of fishing grounds by foreign fishing fleets, illegal waste dumping and colonial justice.

The judge even spoke of “subsistence piracy” - a term that certainly was not part of his vocabulary prior to the trial. Many of those present were surprised by the obvious learning curve.

The prison sentences are based on two arguments. Firstly, the assumption that the defendants had not been forced to participate as they had claimed. This argument had been made possible by the court's refusal throughout the trial to hear even a single witness who could have supported the defendants' version of the events. Secondly, the allegedly professional equipment and military style of the attack, supposedly proven by the skiffs and the weapons used, as well as the damage done to the Taipan.

Anyone who has seen the pictures of the accused at the time of their arrest, dressed in flip-flops and t-shirts, will wonder what a non-military group would look like in the eyes of the judge. And to what degree the damage sustained by the Taipan was caused by the covering fire from the Dutch frigate during their operation was never investigated.

There were many aspects where the judge had to admit that even 105 trial dates were not sufficient to reveal the truth. It was never established who entered the Taipan first, who took control of the helm, and who actually fired shots.

However, the judge acknowledged that the accused had not been the ones who had planned the attack and that they had no intention to kill.

The timid attempt of the court to acknowledge the difficulties inherent in applying German judicial concepts to events that took place off the coast of Somalia did not stop it from handing down long prison sentences. Instead, the sentencing sounded in parts like emotional assault.

Two items made it clear how the court was willing to risk re-traumatising the defendants.

One of the defendants had stated his age as 13 years. Had the court accepted this, he could not have been held in custody and he could not have been tried in a criminal court in Germany. Therefore every attempt was made to make him older. His birth certificate, school records and even an affidavit by his own mother were ignored on the basis that Somalia was not a functioning state, therefore it could not have issued valid documents.

Instead, the dubious methods of the Hamburg forensic institute were employed. After his arrival in Hamburg, the accused was taken there to have his age assessed. There was no translator present and his hands and feet were in cuffs. His was gestured to put his hand under an x-ray machine. The young Somali, who had never seen modern medical equipment, assumed that his hand was about to be chopped off.

Another one of the accused has been suffering from mental health issues for a long time. His small son had been kidnapped in Somalia to force repayment of debt. He had claimed that the reason he had participated in the attack on the Taipan had been to earn money to release his son. However, he had not repeated this in his closing words.

For the judge, this meant that his claim was implausible. The accused was expected to repeat the traumatising story in order to be credible. The thought that it may have been unbearable for him to tell the story again did obviously not cross the judge's mind.

All this indicates that the entire programme, including the sentencing had been primarily driven by the desire to publicly justify a multi-million Euro military presence. The most powerful nations do not deploy dozens of well equipped war ships in order to stop a hand full of flip-flop wearing pirates. These ships are deployed to control the flow of goods between the producer and consumer regions.

20 October 2012

Trial over – prison sentences passed down

The trial has finally come to an end. The judge passed down prison sentences ranging from two years for the under-age accused to between six and seven years for the older ones. The 'crown witness' was sentenced to six years.

The prosecution had demanded between four and five years for the under-age defendants and between six and 12 years for the others.

For all defendants, the time they have already been detained is subtracted from the sentences. For the under-age defendants this means they will not have to go back inside.

For the adult defendants this means that two years and six months will be taken into account.

More info to follow.

19 October 2012

Emotional words in court

Court Report Day 104 – 17 October 2012

The last closing addresses and emotional words from the accused.

The last closing addresses were given by the lawyers for one of the under-age accused. They largely followed the arguments of their predecessors but also stressed that the trial had officially been a youth trial. However this did not show during the trial.

Then the accused each made a personal statement. They all spoke about their families, their situation in Somalia, hunger and war and what drove them to participate in the attack on the Taipan, for which they apologised.

They talked about how desperate their were in custody not being able to help their families. “Without the help of my lawyers, my family wouldn't be alive anymore,” said one of them.

Some talked about how they have been thinking about suicide.

They all seemed to be afraid of the future, when they might be imprisoned. “I won't have a lawyer then,” said one of them.

One of the accused caused a stir when he told the court that the 'crown witness' had taken control of the Taipan. The defence of another accused asked the court to investigate this statement, which would have meant re-opening the trial. The court rejected the application.

On Friday, 19 October, the trial will in all likelihood finish and the verdict and sentences will be passed.

16 October 2012

Court Report Day 103 – 15 October 2012

There are two more closing addresses outstanding, which will likely be held on Wednesday, 17 Oct, meaning the verdict and sentencing might take place on Friday, 19 October.

First, the defence for the 'crown witness' read a statement by their client. He apologised to the court, saying that during the last trial date he had been outraged and unwell. He didn't want to talk about his family. The names he had originally given were correct, later on he had given wrong names out of fear. His cousin had been killed in a car accident in Somalia, and it was possible that he had referred to him as 'brother', which was common.

A phone number stored on his phone was that of his father, another number did belong to one of the organisers of the attack, but he had only wanted to use it contact his family, but never actually used it.

He didn't want to talk about what had happened prior to the attack on the Taipan. He maintained that he had been the translator and not the leader, naming another accused as the actual leader.

That person's defence then made two applications. The first one was to hear as an expert witness a security expert who had written an article about piracy attacks and the role of safe rooms. The witness could verify, according to the defence, that the accused never had a chance of taking the crew hostage and that therefore the charges should be reduced to attempted hijacking, rather than hijacking.

The second application was to hear a London lawyer who had negotiated with pirates and knew the clan structures in Somalia. He would be able investigate the relatives of the 'crown witness' in London. This was important because the 'crown witness' had always denied having a brother in London, and the court was obliged to investigate his credibility.

Both applications were declined and the judge declared, once again, the end of the trial. In addition, the prosecutor stated that the 'irritations' that had been caused by the 'crown witness' last time had been sufficiently clarified.

This was then followed by more closing addresses, which mostly referred to the speeches that have already been given.

The defence for the accused who had been the first to make a statement in court stated that their client's role had been to bail the skiff during the attack. He had therefore not carried a weapon. He had been acting out of dire necessity because he had seen no other way to feed his family. “Who knows how we would have acted,” asked the defence.

The defence claimed that the court and the prosecution had been out of their depth during this trial. The defendant's wish to be kept together with other Somali-speaking prisoners had been used against him and he had been kept in isolation as a result. The defence concluded by asking for a prison sentence of four years.

The defence for another accused criticised the court for holding the trial here. The lawyer had changed his opinion on this and was now convinced that the trial should have been held closer to the defendant's family. He was also convinced that the decision to extradite the accused to Germany had been a political one.

Referring to the Indian crew of the dhow Hudhud, he criticised the court for not exploring the possibilities to having them interviewed in India, instead having been driven by the media who had claimed that the trial was costing too much.

The lawyer said he was especially outraged about the court's refusal to grant his client bail with the argument that he was better of in prison in Germany then free in Somalia. He demanded his client be acquitted.

The remaining closing addresses will be heard on Wednesday, 17 October 2012.

07 October 2012

Court Report Day 102 – 27 September 2012

The judge declared that the court would - once again - revert to gathering evidence. This was due to an application made in August 2010 – before the trial even began – by the accused who had become the 'crown witness' later on. The application stated that the accused had heard that his brother had died in a car accident and he had therefore applied for permission to phone his father.

However, the name and signature on this application were different from the name the accused had later given the court. The judge said that both the name and the reasons given for the phone call were in contradiction to what the accused had later told the court. When asked to explain the differences, the accused said that he could only remember making the application but couldn't remember any details.

The accused then became agitated and asked why things that were written two years ago would be relevant today, which prompted the judge to repeat his questions.

The court then took a break but never resumed because the 'crown witness' was declared unfit for trial for the rest of the day.

The following trial date (which would have been day 103) was also cancelled due to illness of the 'crown witness'.

The next scheduled trial date is Monday, 15 October 2012.

25 September 2012

Court Report Day 101 – 19 September 2012

The closing address of the second lawyer for one of the under-age defendants which was started at the last date, was continued. The lawyer argued that his client had acted out of pure necessity to survive. He had been seriously under-weight when he arrived in Hamburg. A prison sentence would be reflective of colonial justice which only served the interests of the ship owners.

Next was the defence for the accused who had been named as the alleged leader by the 'crown witness'. They followed up on the previous address by accusing the court of having this trial in order to protect the shipping routes for German merchants. They also raised the question of what purpose a sentence was supposed to serve. They pointed to a fracture in the trial, which according to them had occurred after the Norwegian expert witness Hansen had been heard. From then on the court had refused to approve any witnesses for the defence and had only seemed to be interested in closing the case. The court's refusal to hear a witness from Somalia had been justified with excuses such as that the time frame for a visa application had been unclear or that it was not known whether the witness had been vaccinated.

18 September 2012

Cannon fodder in an undeclared war

Court Report Day 100 – 17 September 2012

Three defence lawyers had, as one of them said, “the dubious honour” to give their closing address on the 100th day of the trial.

First up was the defence for the accused whose son had been kidnapped. The defence quoted from a recent article in the magazine Spiegel which said that the case could not really be tried in Germany. They then explained the situation of the accused and of his family in Somalia and pleaded for the sentence not to exceed four years.

Then the defence for one of the under-age accused spoke. He said that what the West called piracy was seen in Somalia as an act of self-defence against illegal fishing and waste dumping. The aid the West was giving to Somalia was a drop in the bucket and the illegal fishing removed more protein from the Somali diet than the aid delivered. The reputation of piracy in the West was bad because it challenged the capitalist logic of free trade. Many nations were interested in the resources around the Horn of Africa. The Swiss government had described Atalanta as an undeclared war. Was the court trying to justify Atalanta? According to the UN, the illegal fishing had caused one million Somali to flee their country. The European border agency FRONTEX would then ensure that these refugees never reached Europe. This was neocolonialism.

100 days of trial – no reason to celebrate

After 100 long and torturous days in court the trial is finally coming to a close. Today for the 100th time the accused walked trough the tunnel that connects the remand prison with the court building. For the 100th time twenty lawyers assembled, three translators drove long distances to get to court and four jury members left their lives behind and spent up to eight hours in room 337 of the Hamburg criminal court building. And for the 100th time the guards dozed off during the proceedings.

For the 100th time members of the public (including two observers from a shipping company) sat behind the glass separating the public from the court and listened via the speaker system.

12 September 2012

Court Report Day 99 – 7 September 2012

Today four more defence lawyers gave their closing addresses (one other simply referred to his address given in January). This means that 7 of the 20 lawyers have given their addresses.

Lawyers for the defendant claiming to have been hired as a mechanic to repair outboard motors, demanded that the charges against their client be dropped. They argued that the accused came from a social and legal background that was not at all comparable to that in Europe, therefore he couldn't be tried here. Violence, they said, was an everyday occurrence in Somalia, including violence between the different clans – the exact opposite of the legal framework in Germany.

Furthermore, although fish poaching and toxic waste dumping were no longer the immediate reasons for piracy, piracy was caused by them. For that reason, piracy was well accepted and seen as legitimate within large parts of the population, unlike in Germany.

Trial dates cancelled

The scheduled trial dates for 12th and 14th September have been cancelled. The next date will be Monday, 17 September 2012, 9 am.

07 September 2012

Day 98: Trial ending – prosecution has given closing address

Court Report Day 98 – 6 September 2012

First, the court declined the pending application from yesterday to require the prosecution to supply the minutes of the conversations they have had with the 'crown witness'. One of the defence lawyers then announced that they had filed an appeal with the higher court (Oberlandesgericht) and demanded that the trial be paused. This also was declined by the judge who simply proceeded and announced that all the evidence had been heard and that the court would now hear the closing addresses.

Then the prosecutor gave his closing address – in record time of about half an hour. He demanded the same sentences as in February, the only change was that the 'crown witness' should be given two years less, which should be added to the alleged 'ring leader'. This would mean between four and five and a half years for the under-age defendants and between six ('crown witness') and twelve years ('ring leader') for the others. 

After lunch the defence for the youngest accused gave their closing address. They pointed to the dubious methods of age assessment and to the personal circumstances of the defendant, who had been born in a refugee camp, had lost his father and had participated in the attack on the Taipan so he could feed his mother and his siblings. They also criticised the prosecution for not taking into account the positive development of the accused since he has been in Germany. They asked for a maximum penalty of two years, which would have been served by the time spent in custody.

The closing addresses will be continued Friday, 7 September 2012, 9 am.

06 September 2012

Court Report Day 97 – 5 September 2012

Today, the prosecution admitted having spoken with the 'crown witness' outside of the court hearings - something the prosecutor had so far refused to comment on. He would, however, not say how many of these conversations had taken place and what the subject had been, stating only that it had nothing to do with the current trial.

An application by the defence to the court to formally request the minutes of these conversations was declined. A second application, asking the court to find out if the prosecution had promised anything to the 'crown witness' will be decided at the next hearing. The defence lawyer argued that the question of credibility was crucial, because it was effectively the word of the 'crown witness' against the word of the other accused.

The lawyer continued to argue that the only subject of value to the prosecution which the 'crown witness' would have been able to talk about was the organisational structure of the Somali pirates – which would prove his leadership role in the attack.

03 September 2012

Court Report Day 96 – 30 August 2012

As expected, the bail applications from the last hearing were declined. In one case, the defence appealed the decision, but it was upheld.

Then followed an almost enthusiastic report from the representative of the youth court aid about the three under-age defendants who have been living in a youth facility since April. According to everyone involved, their “politeness, reliability and eagerness to learn are exemplary”. They were also looking after each other and getting on well with everyone. They were, however, deeply worried about their families in Somalia.

Then one of the defence lawyers announced that – unbeknownst to the prosecution or the court – his client had been visited by two police officers and a translator. The defendant had refused to talk to them, so they had left. The prison's visitor book showed no entries, therefore the lawyer applied to ascertain the names of the officers. This was declined by the judge.

Another application to hear the uncle of the “crown witness” who supposedly could confirm or deny some of his statements will be decided by the next hearing.

Next date: Wednesday, 5 September, 9 am

01 September 2012

Pirate training in full swing at Lake Constance

At this camp ground at Lake Constance, young aspiring pirates are well catered for. The special “Pirates' Nest” crèche is available for any one over 4 years old and certain areas of the camp ground are reserved for pirates. 


Other forms of theft are also encouraged with this offer of a “Thieve's Platter” which children fill from their parents' plates.


Trial date cancelled

The scheduled trial date on 31 August 2012 was cancelled. The next date is Wednesday, 5 September at 9:00 am.

29 August 2012

Solidarity Rally in the Park


Last Sunday (August 26) a public rally was held in the park outside the Hamburg remand prison where seven of the Somali defendants have been held for over two years, waiting for their verdict

One of the biggest wishes of the prisoners has always been to hear Somali music. They can't listen to their language on the radio like other prisoners and the rules around getting CDs into prison are tight – only CDs from certain suppliers are allowed and most Somali musician aren't signed up with major labels.



The solution therefore, was to play their music in the park. The open mike was used to greet the Somali prisoners and other people also used the opportunity to say hello to their relatives and friends.






The weather was fine, the waffles tasted great, the kids played on the grass and maybe the prisoners felt a little bit less lonely in their cells that day.

21 August 2012

Hoilday Programme VI

Only a stone's throw away from the Hamburg remand prison where seven of the accused Somali have been locked up for over two years now, stands this image of a pirate at the entrance to a playground, enticing children to a life of adventure and freedom. Is anyone warning them what will happen if they actually try?



14 August 2012

Solidarity Rally Outside Prison

Public Rally in the park (Planten un Blomen) outside Hamburg Remand Prison (entrance Jungiusstr). 

Sunday, 26 August 2012, 3pm - 7 pm

Coffee, cake, drink and songs from inside and about prison.

05 August 2012

Court Report Day 95 – 30 July 2012

First, the judge announced that the applications for bail for two defendants had been declined.

Then yet another German Federal Police officer who had been present during the interview of the Indian journalist R. gave evidence. However, she could not add anything significant, most of her memories came from reading the notes.

 Next, a fax from the French police was presented, confirming that no finger prints of the 'crown witness' were held. This doesn't surprise us because in a successful hijacking there are no fingerprints taken – instead the ransom is paid, the crew released and the ship returned.
copyright:hmagdy
 This was followed by another call by the defence to investigate the connections of the 'crown witness' to his alleged brother in London. Several defence lawyers said that the prosecution should have undertaken these investigations a long time ago and that there was no excuse for not doing it.  The ensuing argument resulted in an application to to have the prosecutor heard as a witness in his own case. As expected, this application was declined.

Finally, one of the accused wanted to make a statement, but the court ran out of time.
                                                                  

24 July 2012

Comics on the Trial

copyright: marlenekrause.blogspot.com

copyright: Birgit Weyhe
           
                  send to us from two students of the Hamburg University and commenting the Court case.
                                                                        Thanks for sharing !

14 July 2012

The Confiscated Child - Fundraiser Booklet





The Confiscated Child

One of the accused in the Hamburg 'Piracy Trial' tells the story of how his child was kidnapped when he couldn't pay his debt. The booklet is a fundraiser to free his child. It is illustrated, hand-coloured and the 500 copies are individually numbered.


Available at Schanzenbuch book shop (Schulterblatt 55, 20357 Hamburg).
For bulk orders contact us at ReclaimTheSeas@googlemail.com

Price: €5.00

13 July 2012

Court Report Day 94 – The Prosecutor's Apprentice

Court Report, 12 July 2012.

Today, a further witness from the German federal police was heard. L. works at Frankfurt airport and he participated in the conversation with the Indian journalist R., who had interviewed the crew of the dhow Hudhud. The officer's statement was supposed to resolve discrepancies between R's recollection of the conversation and the notes taken by the other officer, B.

L. stated that he was asked by B. to accompany him to the TV station, but that he had no idea what it was about. His area of responsibilities were kidnappings. Why he - 'the driver', as he was called by one lawyer - ended up signing the file notes remained a mystery.

12 July 2012

Holiday Programme V

Scenes from the theatre play PARLEZ! produced by the theater group Geiheimagentur.




09 July 2012

06 July 2012

Holiday programm III


The "Pirate Special" was a major attraction at last year's consumer fair 'Du und Deine Welt'. Reflected in the windows is the Hamburg remand prison, were 7 of the accused are still held.


05 July 2012

Holiday Programme II

Solidarity rally at the waterfront. 'Somali fish sandwiches', which are missing the fish because it has been poached by European trawlers were sold to raise funds for phone cards for the accused.

02 July 2012

Holiday Programme

While the defendants are waiting for the court and the the lawyers to return from their summer holidays, we will show a few pictures from the last 18 months...

During a public rally in the park outside the remand prison - more than a year ago.

28 June 2012

Waiting

seen at the visitors entrance of the Hamburg Prison
                                        
                                            for the lawyers and the Court to take their holidays.......

24 June 2012

Court Report Day 93 – 21 June 2012

Today, the Indian journalist R. was interviewed again. First he told the court that he had the phone number of the alleged pirate leader Dhaghaweyne (who had not been on the Taipan and had not been arrested). He was sure that it was Dhaghaweyne's private number, but he hadn't talked to him yet. He read the number out loud and everyone, including the press, wrote it down.

But then R. didn't want to reveal the names and addresses of his relatives in India, who he said he had visited prior to interviewing the crew of the Hudhud. He was also very vague in answering the question of whether he had had a conversation with the crew prior to the filmed interview, during which he may have suggested their answers.

Lastly, he revealed that during the conversation he had had with the German federal police, there had been two more police officers present. Because there had been contradictions between R.'s recollection of the conversation and the notes made by one of the officers afterwards, the court reluctantly agreed to an application by the defence to have these other two police officers heard in court.

Because the unofficial 'crown witness' X had stated that he would not answer questions from the other defence lawyers, they applied to the court to take over a list of 20 questions they had compiled for X and ask them as questions from the court. The court will decide about this at the next hearing. Both the court and X denied that there had been any out-of-court agreement between X, the prosecution and the judge regarding his statements.

This was the last trial date before the summer holidays, the next date is July 12. The judge noted that this may sound strange to those who are held in custody

21 June 2012

Court Report Day 92 – 20 June 2012

An even shorter trial date today – just one announcement by the judge.

As was expected, the judge declined the application by the defence to hear the Norwegian academic Stieg Hansen for a second time, in order to verify statements made by the 'crown witness'.  The defence had argued that Hansen had knowledge of tribal networks and knew informants in Somalia that would enable him to verify or otherwise what the accused had said. The judge himself had spoken to witnesses in Somalia on the phone, but was not willing to hear them in court because he said they could not be identified.

The judge countered the argument saying that referring to these tribal networks was only showing that there were no institutions in Somalia that were “orderly and not corrupt”. Even Hansen would not be able to positively identify any witnesses. This was in contrast to the Indian witnesses, who had been identified by Interpol. He did not respond to the accusation that the court was applying different standards to defence witnesses and to prosecution witnesses.

The journalist R. will be appearing one last time in court on 21 June, starting at 8:30 am.

16 June 2012

Court Report Day 91 – 15 June 2012

Another short day in court.

One of the defence lawyers submits a lengthy application regarding hearing Stig Hansen, the Norwegian academic who had given evidence about the social situation Somalia at the beginning of the trial. The court had rejected the application to hear him again after allegations were made that the 'crown witness' had lied about his past. The application today was another attempt to have Hansen heard, on the grounds that the court had rejected hearing anyone from Somalia. The defence pointed out that the court had cited difficulties serving summons to people in Somalia and not being able to positively identify them as reasons not to hear any witnesses from Somalia. However, when it came to the Indian crew of the dhow, the court was happy to hear their statements via the Indian journalist without knowing being able to identify them. The court might apply different standards for witnesses for the prosecution and those for the defence.

Three other defence lawyers joined the application, the prosecutor wanted it rejected. The court will make a decision at the next hearing.

Then the judge presented a note from the French police, saying that they had no finger or palm prints from the 'crown witness'.

Finally, the court announced new trial dates, all the way to the end of November:

September 2012
Wed, 05.09.
Thu, 06.09.
Fri, 07.09.
Wed, 12.09.
Fri, 14.09.
Mon, 17.09.
Wed, 19.09.
Thu, 27.09.
Fri, 28.09.

October 2012
Mon, 15.10.
Wed, 17.10.
Fri, 19.10.

November 2012
Thu, 01.11.
Wed, 07.11.
Thu, 08.11.
Wed, 14.11.
Wed, 21.11.
Thu, 29.11.

13 June 2012

No trial on Thursday, 14 June

The next trial date on Thursday, 14 June has been cancelled.

09 June 2012

Court Report day 90 - 6 June 2012


More contradictions and how the statements of Indian witnesses, who didn't want to appear in court, still ended up in court.

The day started with a non-public viewing of the video the journalist R. had made with two of the Indian crew from the dhow Hudhud in India. The two had stated that they didn't want to appear in court, didn't want to leave the country and, later, also didn't want to be interviewed in the German consulate. It is unclear whether the court even told them that the recordings of their conversation with R. would be used in court, let alone ask them. We wonder if the court would have proceeded in the same way if the people concerned had not been mere ship-crew but members of the upper class.

Then the 23 minute video was shown again in public, with a live translation from a teacher of the Urdu language. Sometimes the translator had difficulty understanding everything and had to leave passages out, which he substituted with “dot dot dot”. Both the translator and the journalist blamed this on the fact that the interviewed crew members were 'simple and uneducated people'. However, a few times it were the questions by the journalist, which the translator couldn't understand, and after a few attempts by the translator, the journalist himself translated what he had said in the video.

Development stages of a translation: uneducated - educated - dot dot dot

Therefore the examination of the video took hours, with one or two minutes being played and then the video being rewound and played again.

After a few hours one of the accused voiced what everyone had been thinking: “I have difficulty understanding, maybe the translator is not the right person to translate?”. The judge replied that the court didn't have a choice. However, when the translator for the Dutch captain of the frigate 'Tromp' made a few mistakes, she was swiftly replaced. Obviously this wasn't wanted in this case.

It became obvious that the journalist had asked leading questions, which meant that the 'uneducated' interviewees would give the desired answered. However, at no stage did they state what the German police officer (who had interviewed the journalist) had claimed they said: that they were appalled that some of the accused were able to attend school in Germany. The journalist had already told the court that this wasn't the case, but the police officer insisted. More discrepancies between the video and the statements by the police officer showed, and at one stage the judge said that he didn't know who to believe any more.

Because the showing of the film had taken so long, there wasn't enough time to answer all the questions from the lawyers. However, the journalist had stated before he came to court that he didn't have any more time. The judge got grumpy and told him that he could be forced by subpoena to appear in court. The journalist replied that his legal adviser had recommended that he shouldn't appear in court at all, and that he had only done so because he had promised the judge verbally to do so, and that no one could force him. It was obvious that he was disappointed in the German police officer.

The judge then told him that he would phone him in the morning to make another appointment, asking him, of all things, to think of the accused who have had to endure the proceedings for two years now.



05 June 2012

Court Report Day 89 – 04 June 2012


Today, an officer of the German Federal Criminal Office (BKA) gave evidence. The officer had spoken with the Indian journalist R., who had given evidence the week before. They had spoken about the interview R. had made with the crew of the dhow Hudhud. The officer had taken notes of the conversation – however, he had to admit that the notes were taken several days later, and after having had a talk with the officer who was in charge of the investigations around the Taipan.

The officer named the person, whose family had possibly been involved in organising the attack on the Taipan – the journalist had refrained from doing so.

The judge tried to ascertain whether the notes were reflecting what R. had told the officer, or what the Indian crew had told R., but that didn't really become clear. The officer did, however, confirm that the crew had stated that they found it scandalous that the three youngest accused were allowed to go to school in Hamburg. This information had been reported in the papers, but R. had refuted it.

03 June 2012

Your children can become pirates too – for only 325 Euros


Capitalism thrives on its contradictions and here is another one. A German tour organiser offers sailing trips for children with a pirate theme in the Dutch North Sea: “Which child hasn't dreamed of going on board like Pippi Longstocking and entering the world of the pirates” the text in their brochure says, next to a picture of children wearing skull and crossbones bandannas as well as bright orange life jackets. No one wants aspiring pirates to drown. The life jackets alone mean that these kids are better equipped than the ten Somali who were arrested on the Taipan.

A readers comment often seen on newspaper web sites is that the Somali on trial in Hamburg are 'just plain criminals' and need to be punished severely. While the reasons why people actually become pirates are rarely published, it is totally acceptable for German parents to pay money for their kids to participate in piracy as a harmless adventure. What is a game for European children is a matter of survival for others who first risk their lives and are then labelled 'terrorists' and go to prison.

Will the instructors at this holiday trip talk about the reasons why piracy exists? Will they encourage the children to think about the role they can have in creating a world where everyone has access to resources?



24 May 2012

Court Report Day 88 - 23.5.12


Court Report Day 88 – 23 May 2012

Today, the Indian journalist working for german television ARD, who was announced yesterday, appeared and gave evidence. He had been called in at short notice, when the German federal police had told the court last week that he had been in Salaya and had interviewed two of the crew from the dhow Hudhud.

He said the reason why the crew didn't want to appear in court themselves was not because they were afraid of coming to Germany but because they wanted to leave these events behind. The judge thanked the journalist for taking the unusual step of sharing his research with the court.

First, the court wanted to be sure that they were talking about the same people, so two photos were shown to identify the crew members.

When the judge asked, the journalist mentioned two names of people who were behind the attack on the Taipan. However, when asked about the name of the defendant, whose relatives had been involved, he said that he had been given two more names in the last couple of days and that he didn't want to falsely accuse anyone. Should the judge ask again in a few days, it was likely that different names would come up.

While in India, the journalist had read in Times of India about the two crew members being in Salaya, so he decided to interview them. But he said, he wasn't alone with the two, at times there had been up to 40 other people in the room, who had just dropped in (“there is not much happening in Salaya”). He had about half an hour of raw video footage, which will be shown at the next court hearing. When asked if the interviewees knew that they were being filmed and that the material was going to be published, he said he assumed so. He repeatedly described them as 'simple people', who didn't tell a lot of details.

The crew had been upset about being held captive by other Muslims. True Muslims wouldn't do that to each other. They had been threatened and had  to sleep all  in one room, but had not been harmed physically. They had been told that they would be freed once the Somali had successfully captured a ship. The capturing of the Taipan obviously failed, so they had to wait until another ship had been hijacked and after that they were released. In the meantime they had been fishing. The judge seemed a little confused at this because the Hudhud had been described as a coal carrier, but the journalist told him that it wasn't unusual to also trade in fish.

According to the two crew members, the Somali had spent a lot of time on the phone, talking to their families, who kept asking when they would return, and about the ransom money. To us, this raises the question of how the Indian crew would know the content of the phone calls, unless they spoke Somali, which had never been mentioned before. However, no one in the court room asked about it.

The journalist emphasized that he himself had never initiated contact with the FBI or the German police, instead they had contacted him several times, especially after a colleague of his had been kidnapped in Somalia in January.

He stated that apparently some of the conversations he had had with the German police had not been recorded correctly and this way some incorrect information had been reported in the German media recently.

The only question asked by the defence was whether he had given the name of the 'crown witness' to the German police. He was indignant and vehemently denied this.

The hearing was then adjourned because one of the defendants was suffering from severe headache and had to see a doctor. The next planned trial date on 25. May has been cancelled due to the unavailability of the journalist. The next date will be the 4th of June, where the video footage of the interviews will be shown.