US embassy cable - 06NAIROBI416

U.S.-CAPTURED SOMALI PIRATES NOW IN KENYAN CUSTODY

Identifier: 06NAIROBI416
Wikileaks: View 06NAIROBI416 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Nairobi
Created: 2006-01-30 12:28:00
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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