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Italian Courts' First Piracy Judgement Sets Precedent

October 31, 2012 - 13:48:40 UTC

First Italian Judgment in a piracy Case: Public Prosecutor of Rome Condemns Four Somali Pirates

Source: Il Denaro

For some years piracy has once again become a global problem. Concentrated in Somali waters, pirates are a serious threat to international trade. This is of strategic importance for the judgment on October 6 by the Attorney General in Rome, condemning four Somalis minors to seven years in prison for the crimes of piracy, carrying weapons and attempted kidnapping for the purpose extortion against the ship Livorno "Montecristo".

MV Montecristo Rescue by UK/US Special Forces

MV Montecristo Rescue by UK/US Special Forces

This is the first Italian judgment concerning piracy, which represents an important precedent as fixed and settled by the Italian court for all cases of seizures of Italian ships, although occurring in a foreign country.

The story

On 10 October 2011, a group of 13 "Somali pirates" boarded, in international waters of the Gulf of Aden, the Italian merchant ship "Montecristo", of the group D'Alessio di Livorno. The pirates seized ship with automatic weapons (machine guns and other), forcing the crew to take refuge in a reinforced area of the ship (the "citadel"). This area had been reinforced before departure, just in anticipation of such possible attacks by Somali pirates (the Gulf of Aden is called "red zone" because of the danger of attacks by Somali pirates). The ship's crew was able to give the alarm, received by the military ship, Andrea Doria, of the Italian navy, and after two days of sailing were able to reach the merchant vessel, Mercadante. Nearby, there was also a British military ship [RFA Fort Victoria] and a U.S. Navy ship [USS De Wert]. The pirates were captured and delivered to the Italian judicial authority, competent to provide a decision since the assault had involved an Italian ship (considered to be Italian territory). Proceedings were commenced in the court of Rome. The four juvenile offenders were tried and sentenced in the first instance by the Juvenile Court of Rome, for the crimes of piracy at sea (art. 1135 navigation code), for carrying weapons of war and attempted kidnapping for ransom (56.630 cp). The Court of Appeal of Rome section for minors, on the hearing of 6 October confirmed the first instance judgment and ordered the four defendants to seven years in prison.

Italian first judgment

The judgment is important because it is the first conviction by an Italian court for the crime of piracy naval. Italy had adopted in the past against pirates the technique of "catch and release", ie delivering pirates to the states to which they belong. This technique has been criticized by the UN Security Council because it was considered an incentive problem. The UN has called on states to crack down on piracy, and pursuing through judicial procedures with severe punishment.

The previous seizures

In 2011, before the attack on the ship Montecristo, other Italian vessels were attacked by Somali pirates. Here is a list of vessels attacked/hijacked:

6 April 2009 the "Malaspina Castle," British ship run by an Italian company, is hijacked and released May 9;

April 11, 2009 Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden hijack the tugboat Buccaneer of Micoperi, carrying 16 people taken hostage;

5 April 2009 the gas carrier "Neverland" is attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, but the attempt failed;

8 February 2011, the oil tanker "Savina Caylyn" of Neapolitan-basedFratelli D'Amato was attacked and seized by pirates 880 miles off Somalia;

April 13, 2011 the ship "Alessandra Bottiglieri" was attacked by a dozen pirates about 70 miles south of the coast of Benin;

April 21, 2011 the Italian ship " Rosalia D'Amato "was attacked and hijacked in the Arabian Sea and taken to Somalia;

July 24, 2011 "Anema e Core", of shipping company RBD Spa Tower of Greek Shipowners, is hijacked while sailing in the Gulf of Nigeria and released five days later.

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Submitted by Team@oceanuslive.org


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