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All 5 convicted Somali pirates to face appeals court

All Headlines 15:16 June 03, 2011

BUSAN, June 3 (Yonhap) -- All five Somali pirates recently convicted of hijacking a South Korean-owned freighter earlier this year have appealed their sentences, claiming innocence for some of their charges, a local court said Friday.

The pirates were captured on Jan. 21 during a commando operation by the South Korean Navy to rescue the chemical carrier, the Samho Jewelry, in the Arabian Sea. Eight other pirates were killed in the operation, while all 21 crew members were rescued. The ship's captain, Seok Hae-kyun, has been recovering in South Korea after sustaining serious gunshot wounds during the raid.

The Busan District Court on May 27 sentenced one of the pirates, Mahomed Arai, 21, to life in prison for shooting Seok and seven other charges, including attempted murder and maritime robbery. He has since denied the murder attempt and appealed the court decision.

Aul Brallat, another pirate, received a 15-year prison sentence for attempting to kill the ship's crew by using them as human shields, while two others were sentenced to 13 years in prison on similar charges.

In a separate ruling on Wednesday, the court sentenced Abdulahi Husseen Maxamuud to 15 years in prison for maritime robbery and hijacking the ship on Jan. 15. He, too, has denied the charges and appealed the decision.

The trial, the first case against piracy in South Korea, is set to take its next step at the Busan High Court, with prosecutors also appealing the sentences. They had demanded capital punishment for Arai and life imprisonment for the remaining four pirates.
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