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Monday, May 20, 2013

What happens to pirates after they are caught?

They go to paradise, apparently

Anthony Denselow, in the Seychelles, contributes a fascinating story to the BBC magazine.

There are more than 1,000 convicted Somali pirates in prisons around the world. Some of them end up in a UN-funded jail on the tiny island nation of Seychelles.

The pirate prison is situated high in the hills -- and tourists paying big bucks to stay in thatched villas on the beach have not a clue it is there.

"I am in Victoria, the islands' capital, to witness an astonishing sight that is about to disappear forever," writes Denselow.

"In the heart of town is the beautiful black and white Creole courthouse.

"Outside, lolling on benches are groups of handcuffed prisoners.

"It is a sun-kissed Dickensian scene that I cannot imagine anywhere else.

"Six Somalis, in flip flops and chained in pairs, are brought into the tiny court where a judge and nine lawyers clad in black and wearing wigs barely give them a glance.

"These six were arrested last August hundreds of miles north - nearer Yemen than Seychelles.

They are accused of attempting to board a merchant ship and were captured by the Dutch navy with help from a Spanish helicopter.


Charles Brown is a barrister from Cumbria and one of two UK Criminal Prosecution Service lawyers who have been seconded to the attorney general's office in Seychelles to help prosecute pirates.

He says that they can look pretty shell-shocked when they first arrive in these lush islands, but describes the Somalis as a "cheerful and reasonably intelligent lot". "

Naturally, the men claim to be simple fishermen (though their boats seldom have nets, and never refrigeration equipment), or maybe even boat people, but with more intensive patroling of the Indian Ocean, they are not getting away with it.  Guns are usually thrown overboard, but grappling hooks are enough to get them arrested.

In fact, so many are being arrested that until recently they were simply dumped on some Somali beach.  But it is now much more organized -- and in Somalia itself, there is now a secure prison funded by the UN, where convicted pirates serve sentences that can be decades long.

Others serve their time in foreign climes ... including the idyllic Seychelles.

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