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German Piracy Trial

Court Regional Court of Hamburg (Landgericht Hamburg), Germany
Decision title Urteil
Decision date 19 October 2012
Categories Piracy
Other countries involved
  • Somalia
  • The Netherlands
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On 5 April 2010, ten Somalis attacked the Taipan, a container ship sailing under the German flag off the Horn of Africa. The Dutch naval forces arrested the Somalis and, on 10 June 2010, transferred them to Germany. The trial commenced on 22 November 2010, representing the country’s first piracy trial in 400 years.

On 19 October 2012, the Hamburg Regional Court found the Somalis guilty and handed down sentences ranging between two and seven years.

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Procedural history

On 10 June 2010, the Dutch navy transferred ten Somali nationals to Germany. The Somalis were accused of committing acts of piracy on 5 April 2010 on the German container ship, the Taipan. The proceedings against them began on 22 November 2010.

See also  BBC, 'Hamburg Trial of Suspected Somali Pirates Begins', 22 November 2010; K. Connolly, 'Somali ‘Pirates’ Go On Trial in Hamburg', The Guardian, 22 November 2010; and K. Matussek, 'Somalis Face Hamburg Court in First German Piracy Trial for Four Centuries', Bloomberg, 22 November 2010.

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Legally relevant facts

Ten Somali nationals were accused of acts of piracy allegedly committed on 5 April 2010 when they boarded a German-registered ship, the Taipan about 560 nautical miles off the Horn of Africa. The Accused allegedly intended to hold the ship’s crew for ransom but the crew fled to a secure room and cut the power to the engines. Eventually, the Accused were arrested by the Dutch naval forces and handed over to Germany on 10 June 2010.

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Core legal questions

  • Can the Accused be held criminally responsible for the acts of piracy?

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Specific legal rules and provisions

  • § 239 (a) para. 1 and § 316 (c) para. 1 no. 1 of the German Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch).

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Court's holding and analysis

On 19 October 2012, the first instance court of Hamburg found all ten Somali Accused guilty of piracy and sentenced them to terms ranging between two and seven years. The Hamburg Court handed down sentences between six and seven years for the seven adults and two year of youth detention for the three minors.

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Further analysis

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Instruments cited

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Additional materials