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Mauritius set to try suspected pirates seized by UK

Saturday, June 02, 2012
Mauritius has said it will receive and try suspected pirates captured by British forces patrolling the Indian Ocean under an agreement with the United Kingdom.

The Indian Ocean nation's Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in London this weekend, helping overcome one of the hurdles to cracking down on the wave of piracy that has hit international shipping.

Foreign navies trying to counter piracy off Somalia are often reluctant to take suspects to their own countries because they either lack the jurisdiction to put them on trial, or fear the pirates may seek asylum.

Suspected pirates detained on the high seas are released after only brief detention due to the governments' reluctance to bring them to trial.

"(The) Cabinet has agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding on the conditions of transfer of suspected pirates and seized property to Mauritius, being signed with the United Kingdom," said a statement of cabinet decisions seen by Reuters on Saturday.

The island nation said no transferred person would be charged with an offence that carries a death penalty or be sentenced to death.

Mauritius is one of several countries in east Africa and the Indian Ocean region conducting trials, or intending to try pirates, because Somalia lacks the legal infrastructure.

The government said last month it was making arrangements to accept one or two batches of suspected pirates in June, but did not say how many.

Mauritius secured 3 million euros in July from the European Union for the trial and detention of piracy suspects.

Rampant piracy off the coast of Somalia has made it the world's most dangerous shipping lane and earned Somali sea bandits tens of millions of dollars in ransoms while pushing up insurance premiums for ships.

Kenya so far has borne the brunt of prosecuting sea bandits seized by foreign navies patrolling the Gulf of Aden's busy shipping lanes that link Europe with Africa and Asia.


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