A high Court in Bosasso, the commercial capital of the Somali semiautonomous regional state of Puntland on Saturday sentenced 22 pirates for six years of imprisonment each, the regional court judge announced.
The buccaneers were captured by the French navy a week ago while they were sailing the high seas in the Indian Ocean and were jailed for six years each according the Sheik Abdirizak Hajji Aden, the judge of Puntland’s high court in Bosasso.
“We have investigated their case and the court found them guilty of being pirates so they have been sentenced for six years of imprisonment” the judge told reporters after jailing the buccaneers Saturday.
But the suspected pirates denied the accusation and allegedly said that they were Somali fishermen who were illegally arrested by the French navy off the coast of Somalia.
The French navy last week handed 24 men to Puntland authorities, but two of them were later released after they were declared innocent, according to the judge.
Meanwhile, on Saturday the French navy handed 6 other Somali pirates to the Puntland authorities, according to the internal security minister General Yusuf Ahmed Kheir.
The minister said that Puntland is not capable of detaining hundreds of pirates who are arrested by the foreign navies off the coast of Somalia and he requested the foreign navies not to send the captured buccaneers to the Puntland region.
“Now we have 246 pirates in our prisons and we can not afford to have more than that number so we are asking France and other foreign nations whose navies are operating along the Somali coast not to hand the captured buccaneers to us” the minister said.
The Puntland region is somewhat peaceful in comparison to the troubled south-central Somali regions, but the region is a hot bed of notorious buccaneers, drug dealers and human traffickers.