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Kenyan Government Agrees to Try Pirates Seized by U.S. Forces

Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2009 –

The Kenyan government has agreed to try pirates captured by the U.S. military, a senior Defense Department official said here today.

The agreement came about earlier this month through a memorandum of understanding signed by U.S. State Department and Kenyan government officials, spokesman Bryan Whitman told Pentagon reporters. Britain also has a similar agreement with Kenya.

Kenya is an east African nation that faces the Indian Ocean. Kenya’s neighbors include Ethiopia and Somalia to the north and northeast, Uganda and Sudan to the northwest and Tanzania to the south.

Seagoing pirates operating off the coasts of Somalia and Yemen have lately preyed on commercial shipping, often holding captured vessels, cargo and crews for millions of dollars in ransom money. The problem seemed to worsen until the recent stand up of a multinational, anti-pirate consortium known as Task Force 151.

The U.S.-Kenyan memorandum “adds to the range of possibilities in terms of being able to attack this problem,” Whitman said. And, “having a place to prosecute these people,” he added, should help to discourage pirate activity in the region.

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