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.