Guanabara: Japan to try pirates of Crude Carrier

Japan will try Guanabara pirates. A Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer carrying the seven-member team is scheduled to bring the four onboard at an Omani port before transporting them to Djibouti, from where a Japan Coast Guard airplane will take them to Japan. MSDF’s Kirisame (DD-104) and Yudachi (DD-103) destroyers are deployed in the Gulf of Aden The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office dispatched a total of seven prosecutors, interpreters and clerks to Oman. The Japanese prosecutors are interviewing the 24 crew members of the tanker.

It would be the first transfer of pirates to Japan since the creation of the country's antipiracy law in 2009, and legal experts are watching closely how Tokyo will deal with the captured pirates as there are no widely recognized international rules on handling them. mainichi

At approximately 3.00pm local time, Mar. 5, the oil tanker MV Guanabara reported it was under attack when it was 328 nautical miles south east of Duqm, Oman. Bulkeley, assigned to CMF’s counter-piracy mission Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 was directed to intercept Guanabara, supported by the Turkish warship TCG Giresun of NATO’s counter-piracy Task Force 508.

Following confirmation from Guanabara’s master that the suspected pirates were on board and his crew had taken refuge in the ship’s “citadel”, Bulkeley’s specialist boarding team, supported overhead by its embarked SH-60 helicopter, secured the Bahamian-flagged vessel and detained four men.
Navy Guanabara is registered in the Bahamas as owned by Peninsula Transport and managed by Mol Tank Shipmanagement Europe. The officers and crew are of varied nationalities. Distance from Duqm, Oman to Port of Djibouti is 1117 nm.

The Japanese government agreed to accept the four suspected pirates from U.S. authorities. But now, government officials are rushing through their preparations, studying when to execute an arrest warrant and how to collect evidence.

After consulting with the Justice Ministry, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office hastily sent prosecutors to Oman, close to the attack site, on March 8.

Japan's burden, including costs, to transfer and provide interpreters is expected to be heavy.

Officials of the Japan Coast Guard, in charge of transporting and questioning the suspects, are already worried that more suspected pirates might follow.

Questioning crew members for evidence will not be easy because the tanker, on its way to China, is not scheduled to make a port call in Japan.

A trial could also pose many difficulties because both the victims and suspects are non-Japanese. The anti-piracy law provides for life imprisonment as a punishment, meaning their case could be tried by lay judges.

"Because they speak many different languages, it would be difficult for citizen judges," a senior prosecution official said.

There are even concerns that it could be impossible to determine whether the accused are adults. In a similar trial in Germany, none of the suspected pirates knew their exact age.
Asahi Shimbun Similar difficulties have been faced by South Korea's law enforcement authorities in dealing with a gang of five suspected pirates. The men were transferred to South Korea after being captured by South Korean commandos off Somalia in January.
The latest government response to the piracy issue also has brought to light the fact that Japan's legal system does not yet have clear-cut provisions on how to deal with pirates captured abroad. The handover of the pirates, if carried out, will raise such questions as the high cost of arranging such transfers.

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