12 Apr 2009

Pirates sentenced to 20 years in prison

12:59 pm on 12 April 2009

A court in the northern Somali breakaway region of Puntland has sentenced 10 people to 20 years in prison each for piracy.

The men were arrested in October after they hijacked a boat contracted by Somali traders. Coastguards arrested them after a brief exchange of gunfire.

In court on Saturday before the verdict was delivered, one of the pirates claimed they were not criminals and said the reason they attacked ships was because they were "collecting resources" from local waters.

Puntland is the main hub for piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

Almost 150 attacks by Somali pirates on foreign ships were reported in 2008, mostly in the Gulf of Aden - one of the world's busiest maritime trade routes.