The Spanish National Court has convicted six Somali nationals accused of piracy and sentenced them each to 16 years in prison for attacking a Spanish fishing boat off the coast of Somalia in 2012.
The accused faced charges of attacking the Spanish tuna boat, the “Izurdia” when it was fishing around 300 miles off the coast on Oct. 12, 2012.
Their attack failed after security guards on the Spanish boat fired shots at them and they were subsequently detained by a Dutch navy ship, which was participating in anti-pirate operations, the following day and handed over the Spanish authorities.
The six were found guilty of forming part of an organized criminal organization and of two charges of piracy, after the court rejected the defendants’ claims they had been fishing when arrested.
The decision taken on Wednesday is the third time Somalis have been convicted for piracy in Spanish courts and follows 2011’s decision to sentence two Somalis to 439 years in jail, of which they will serve a maximum of 30 years, for seizing a Spanish vessel in 2009 and holding its crew to ransom for 47 days.
2013 also saw a Spanish court pass out sentences of between 8 and 12 years, for an attack on a Spanish naval vessel off the coast of Somalia.
The court of Wednesday ruled that “All of the accused formed part of the final step (or the first stage, chronologically speaking) of an organization dedicated to piracy, in which they assaulted, boarded and kidnapped people and property with the aim of obtaining illicit benefits.”
The Magistrates concluded they formed part of a “hierarchical organization,” in which functions were divided and defined and all were armed in order to ensure they achieved their aims.