Failure to prosecute pirates ‘beggars belief’ says new study

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NINE out of 10 piracy suspects detained by the Royal Navy and other maritime forces in the Gulf of Aden or Indian Ocean are released without trial, a new study has revealed.

A critical report by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee said Britain’s failure to prosecute Somali pirates who attack ships, seize hostages and demand huge ransoms ‘beggars belief’.

Not one pirate has been brought to the UK for prosecution, even though 20 other countries – including the US, France, Germany and Belgium – have placed nearly 1,000 suspects on trial.

UK ministers have claimed it is difficult to gather suitable evidence because pirates often throw weapons and other equipment into the sea when they are spotted by anti-piracy patrols.

But the committee said the navy should be using photographs or video recordings to build cases against the gangs of armed pirates which target shipping.

Yesterday’s report said: ‘Gathering evidence to secure a successful prosecution for piracy is challenging.

‘However, not all claims made by the government about the difficulty in securing evidence were wholly convincing: when pirates are observed in boats with guns, ladders and even hostages, it beggars belief that they cannot be prosecuted.’