x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Somali 'pirates' accused of hijacking UAE ship appear in court

Ten Somali men accused of hijacking UAE ship MV Arrilah in April have appeared in court.

ABU DHABI // Ten Somali men accused of piracy who were caught in a special forces raid that freed the hijacked UAE ship MV Arrilah appeared in court yesterday.

Special counter-terrorism units stormed the bulk oil carrier in April last year after it was hijacked in the Arabian Sea, east of Oman, en route from Australia to Jebel Ali.

The 37,000-tonne ship is owned by two subsidiaries of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and the rescue was said at the time to show the UAE’s commitment to acting firmly in the face of piracy. The alleged pirates have appeared twice before at the Federal Court of First Instance.

They appeared yesterday without a lawyer.

“Since you cannot afford a lawyer, the Ministry of Justice will appoint one for you,” the judge told the defendants.

“He will present his defence next hearing.”

A legal source said that a lawyer should be appointed for charges that could lead to a death or life sentence, and other severe penalties in Sharia law.

The trial is considered invalid if such verdicts were issued without a defence lawyer.

The case was adjourned until later this month.