|Wikileaks:||View 06NAIROBI416 at Wikileaks.org|
|Classification:||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY|
|Tags:||PHSA MOPS EAID ASEC PTER PREL SO KE Somali Pirates|
|Redacted:||This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NAIROBI 000416 SIPDIS SENSITIVE E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PHSA, MOPS, EAID, ASEC, PTER, PREL, SO, KE, Somali Pirates SUBJECT: U.S.-CAPTURED SOMALI PIRATES NOW IN KENYAN CUSTODY 1. (U) SUMMARY: Ten Somali pirates captured by the U.S. Navy for high-seas piracy of an Indian vessel have been turned over to Kenyan authorities. Absent interventions by U.S. or Indian authorities to assert jurisdiction, Kenyan police are proceeding full steam to prosecute domestically. END SUMMARY. 2. (U) YO-HO-HO: Ten Somali pirates were captured January 21 by the USS Winston Churchill in international waters approximately 54 miles off the central eastern coast of Somalia. After many hours of ignoring communications -- and multiple warning shots across the bow -- the pirates surrendered the Indian-flagged vessel they had commandeered. The vessel and its crew of 16 were rescued. The USS Winston Churchill subsequently turned the vessel, crew and pirates over to the USS Nassau, which delivered all off the coast of Mombasa, Kenya the weekend of January 28-29. 3. (SBU) WHERE TO PUT THEM ASHORE?: As the USS Nassau steamed towards Kenya, and after coordination with Washington agencies, Embassy sought Kenyan Government views with respect to undertaking prosecution in Kenya -- noting that the USG and/or India might also seek jurisdiction at some future point once all the facts were known. Post also sought Kenyan commitment to facilitate the arrival, detention and delivery to justice. Post held multiple discussions January 24-27 with the Permanent Secretaries for Foreign Affairs and Internal Security, the MFA Americas Desk, the MFA Legal Affairs Director, and Police Commissioner Ali, amongst many others. 4. (SBU) KENYA STEPS UP: Ambassador received oral confirmation the evening of January 26 that Kenya would indeed accept the pirates pending final determination of jurisdiction. Post subsequently received a Diplomatic Note, stating that "The Ministry wishes to inform that authority has been granted for the suspects to be handed over to the Kenyan security forces for purposes of arrest and detention. With regard to the request for Kenya to undertake the prosecution of the suspected pirates, consultations among the relevant authorities are underway and a response will be provided as soon as possible." (MFA Diplomatic Note MFA.231/28A(128), dated 27 January 2006). 5. (SBU) JUST THE FACTS: U.S. investigators were transported to the USS Nassau as it approached Mombasa. (NOTE: The Nassau stayed well off the coast, and thus out of sight, of Mombasa. END NOTE.) Statements from the Indian crew and Somali pirates were taken and evidence collected. Embassy FBI, RSO, POL, and KUSLO (military group) offices, along with other post elements, facilitated the arrival in Mombasa, working closely with Kenyan counterparts on the ground -- most of whom had never received instructions from Nairobi to permit, much less to facilitate, the Indians' arrival. 6. (SBU) THE RESCUED INDIANS: After much debate, the Indian vessel and crew -- which wanted to proceed directly to their original mid-East port of call -- arrived in Mombasa port mid-day Saturday, January 28. The dhow is undergoing needed repairs to render it seaworthy. The crew has since been detained by Kenyan authorities for their own taking of statements and the collection of evidence. The Indian Assistant High Commissioner (resident in Mombasa) walked away from the dock as the Indian vessel drew near, apparently washing his hands of the situation (and the fate of his rescued citizens). Subsequent Kenyan press reports say the Indians claimed to have been tortured by the Somali pirates during their five days of captivity. 7. (SBU) AND THE BUCCANNEERS: The Somali pirates were ferried by helicopters from the USS Nassau to Mombasa's Moi International Airport mid-day Sunday, January 29. They were held there temporarily at the U.S. Embassy's warehouse pending permission from the (recalictrant) Immigration Officer in charge, who had never received instructions from Nairobi. After those were obtained following multiple Embassy interventions Sunday afternoon, he rapidly processed their entry into the country; the police formally arrested the 10 and transported them to holding cells. The Nassau subsequently steamed away. 8. (SBU) WHAT NEXT?: As of mid-day Monday, January 30, Kenyan authorities on the ground are proceeding as if Kenya will prosecute the pirates -- unless or until highers-up tell them otherwise. The Indians (and Somalis) remain in Mombasa. The police are moving ahead with all necessary preparations in order to go to court and pursue criminal prosecution of the Somalis. In addition to conducting interviews, they are drawing up charging documents and preparing for a court hearing -- which may occur as soon as January 31. So as not to delay or jeopardize Kenyan criminal prosecution, evidence left on the USS Nassau needs to be transferred as soon as possible to Kenyan authorities to assist in their presentation before the court. To our knowledge, neither post nor Kenyan authorities have heard from the Government of India re its intentions or desires. 9. (SBU) REACTION: Kenya media have played the story straight. Many Kenyans are fed up with the piracy, which is affecting coastal shipping and commerce. The Somali Transitional Federal Government has likewise supported the capture. Several international aid workers, struggling to avoid famine in drought-stricken Somalia, have offered us a more drastic solution: "Next time, blast them out of the water." What count the lives of a few pirates who have it coming to them, they ask earnestly, when tens of thousands will likely die because of the interruptions these attacks cause to food supplies? Thus is the mood of Nairobi-based humanitarians. 10. (SBU) COMMENT: This is a major success story. After more than three dozen pirate attacks off the Somali coast in the past 18 months, one group of international brigands is being brought to justice. Absent requests otherwise from Washington or New Delhi, it appears Kenya will proceed to prosecute the ten pirates for their crimes on the high seas. Post will seek high-level confirmation of the same from the Kenyan government. Post has just heard of a Chinese crew having been similarly rescued; if this is to become an ongoing affair, the USG needs to begin working on a broader strategy to obtain and maintain Kenyan support for domestic prosecutions. In the meantime, post extends its appreciation to the entire inter-agency community that worked day and night to make this (first) capture and turnover happen. BELLAMY
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