It’s the old conundrum of the dog chasing a car in the street: What do you do once you actually succeed in catching it? Now it seems the German government has run into the same problem regarding the nine Somali pirates its navy recently captured on the high seas off the east coast of Africa. The answer it has come up with is – contrary to what one might have expected – not putting them on trial, as the Frankfurt Algemeine Zeitung reports (Somalis not to come before court in Germany). The decision fell on the prosecuting authorities of the German city/federal state of Hamburg, presumably because the maritime courts there have jurisdiction over things happening on the high seas involving Germans, and they concluded “after weighing all interests as well as under consultation with four federal ministries, no more public interest exists in prosecution.”
Spokesman Wilhelm Möllers further asserted that within Kenya “minimum standards for the carrying-out of a punitive process” are assured, so it looks like the German military authorities will simply sail into a Kenyan port and turn over the prisoners to authorities there.
The German Defense Ministry – surely one of the four ministries cited above which was consulted in this decision? – is keeping a stiff upper lip for now, saying “nothing at all” has changed in their naval operations off the Somali coast as a result of this ruling, so the German frigate Rheinland-Pfalz will remain there (and in fact is due shortly to escort a ship from the World Food Program). Still, you have to wonder what sort of “justice” those captured pirates can expect in Kenya – keep in mind that their organizations are already in possession of millions of dollars in ship-ransom money, and I’m not necessarily suggesting they’ll use some of that on lawyers – and, therefore, what the ultimate point is of that Western naval presence off of Somalia if this is all they can look forward to achieving.