12 Feb 2011

Piracy charges filed in Malaysia

10:00 am on 12 February 2011

Prosecutors in Malaysia have filed charges against seven Somalis accused of being pirates.

They were captured by the Malaysian navy last month while trying to hijack a chemical tanker in the Gulf of Aden, bound for Singapore.

All seven are accused of using firearms against the Malaysian armed forces - a charge which carries the death sentence.

However, prosecutors said three of the suspects would not face execution because they were too young. They are aged 15 years.

The BBC reports they appeared in court on Friday in Kuala Lumpur in handcuffs and wearing orange prison overalls. No pleas were entered.

The seven are accused of trying to hijack the MT Bunga Laurel, a chemical tanker, on 20 January.

Malaysian troops stormed the ship and rescued the crew. The vessel was owned by a Japanese firm and operated by a Malaysian company.