Dealing with Piracy the Russian View

Maritime News Clippings e-zine reports that:-

Russia to hand over captured pirates to 3rd party

Pirates seized by the Russian Navy will be transferred to a third party, the first deputy defense minister said according to RIA Novosti. “In accordance with existing law, pirates seized by Russian naval forces during patrols will be transferred to a third party,” Col. Gen. Alexander Kolmakov said, without specifying which country might accept the pirates.

Twenty-nine suspected pirates were taken on board a Russian warship last month after carrying out an unsuccessful hijack attempt on a Liberian-flagged and Russian-crewed tanker. Russia has found it difficult to find a country willing to take the detainees, and a deputy to the prosecutor general said last Tuesday that Somali pirates could be prosecuted under Russian laws.

Alexander Zvyagintsev said that since Somalia did not have an effective government “it is senseless” to hand pirates over to Somali authorities. He said that pirates operating off Somalia were holding 17 ships and about 300 hostages.  Zvyagintsev added that pirates received $120-150 million in ransom in 2008, which enabled them to buy more sophisticated facilities for attacking merchant ships. President Dmitry Medvedev earlier urged Russian prosecutors to discuss with their foreign colleagues the possibility of creating an international piracy court.

Somali pirates have stepped up attacks on merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden, seizing vessels and kidnapping crews, receiving millions of dollars in ransom. Naval forces from at least a dozen countries have been involved in anti-piracy operations off Somalia. Media reports earlier said Russia had no agreements with regional nations that would allow it to hand over the suspects. Russia has no diplomatic mission in Somalia, where most of the detainees come from. Moscow is entitled under a United Nations Security Council resolution to take the suspects to Russia for trial. The United States has already taken legal action to prosecute a suspected Somali pirate in New York. Piracy is punishable under Russian law by a prison term of between five and 15 years, and a fine of 500,000 roubles (US$15,000). Experts say, however, that establishing pirates’ identity and proving the attempted attack in a court of law could be difficult.