One of the four men who attempted to hijack a tanker operated by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines last March 2011 was sentenced to 11 years in prison. The 21 year old man, believed to be from Somalia, was a juvenile at the time the crime was committed, seized the oil tanker off the coast of Oman in the Indian Ocean together with three other men who have already been convicted of the crime.
The hijacking attempt was foiled when US Navy personnel captured the pirates and promptly turned them over to the Japan Coast Guard. Two of the men admitted to the crime and were already sentenced to 10 years in prison under the then-new anti-piracy law. The fourth man, also a juvenile was given a term of no less than five and no more than nine years. In this last trial, the man pleaded not guilty saying the boat he was in was just asking for help from the tanker. But due to the testimonies of the other men, he was determined to be part of the hijacking crew.
Since 2007, 13 Japanese ships have been attacked in the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea. Statistics show a sharp decline in pirate attacks ever since countries started to allow the ships traversing the channel to carry armed guards. A bill allowing Japanese ships to contract private armed guards is currently waiting for approval from the Diet. Under the current Sword and Firearm Control Law, registered vessels aren’t allowed to do so. But lawmakers see the necessity for armed guards for the protection of the ships and its crew. Around 1,700 Japanese-registered and Japanese-owned ships pass through the region every year.
[ via AFP ]
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