Mon, May 23, 2011
World > Asia-Pacific

S.Korea opens trial of 5 arrested Somali pirates

2011-05-23 08:06:42 GMT2011-05-23 16:06:42(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

SEOUL, May 23 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's first trial of Somali pirates seized during a commando raid on a hijacked ship in the Arabian Sea in January opened on Monday.

Five pirates have been charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and maritime robbery. The trial in Busan marks the first attempt by South Korea to punish foreign pirates.

The five were arrested after South Korean naval commandos stormed the hijacked South Korean-operated cargo ship on January 21, killing eight pirates and rescuing all 21 crew members.

The ship's captain, Seok Hae-kyun, suffered gunshot wounds during the rescue operation and remains in stable condition in hospital after multiple operations. Prosecutors, citing ballistics reports, eyewitness statements and photos, have accused a pirate identified as Araye Mahomed of shooting the captain, a charge denied by Mahomed.

Mahomed could face death penalty if convicted, while the other four could face up to life in prison, local media reported.

The verdict is expected Friday evening.

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