On Thursday morning, 14th of July, the situation was reversed at the Intermediate Court, where 12 “Somali pirates” were found guilty by magistrates Wendy Rangan and Azam Neerooa after a retrial. The intermediate court had pronounced a verdict of acquittal in favor of the 12 Somalis prosecuted in Mauritius on the 6th November 2014.
The Court concluded that there was not enough evidence against the defendants. But the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) appealed to the verdict. On 18th of December 2015 the Supreme Court of Mauritius overturned the acquittal by the intermediate court in favor of 12 Somalis.
The Supreme Court then ordered a new trial shall be started against the 12 Somalis before the Intermediate Court. Judges Asraf Caunhye and Ah Foon Yew Cheong Chui ruled that the intermediate court had failed to properly assess the evidence put forward by the prosecution, but they are not ready to pronounce themselves a guilty verdict.
The judges also noted shortcomings in the indictment, but ruled that these shortcomings should not be fatal to the trial. Hence their decision was to return the case to the Intermediate Court for a new trial.
Aged between 22 to 45 years, 12 Somalis have been detained in Mauritius since 25 January 2013. This follows an agreement between Mauritius and the European Union that the 12 Somalis are judged by the Mauritian justice. The offense, according to the indictment, was committed on the 5th of January 2013 at around 2:10 PM [Somali Time] on the high seas 240 nautical from Somali coast and 392 nautical east-northeast of Mogadishu.
The 12 Somalis were accused of attacking the MSC Jasmin ship. The ship’s officers fired two flares as an alert. Pirates have fired 5-10 shots at the ship. They have fired a “rocket propelled grenade” in the direction of the ship without touching it. The crew members were able to escape. To return to the trial before the Mauritian justice, the hearing was adjourned on the 27th of July at the request of the prosecution. On this date, the closing arguments regarding the 12 Somalis will be imposed.