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    The “Somalian pirate King” appeals for his acquittal

    Mohamed Abdi Hassan, known as the “Somalian pirate King”, went before the Ghent Appeal Court to ask for his acquittal on Friday. “I have been designated by Somalian authorities to fight the pirates”, he said.

    On the 18th of April 2009, Belgian ship Pompei was attacked by Somalian pirates in the Indian Ocean. Ten members of the crew were held hostage for around 70 days. The pirates were eventually paid a ransom of nearly 2 million euros.

    The federal Prosecutor says Mohamed Abdi Hassan was giving orders to pirates around Somalia. Hassan faces 20 years in prison and having 10 million euros confiscated. His lawyer, Walter Damen, has denied his client was on board the Pompei. He said witnesses that identified him as the “Somalian pirate King” were influenced by images of his arrest in Zaventem, which was broadcast on TV.

    Mr Damen says the fact his client’s DNA was found on a mug in the Captain’s cabin doesn’t prove anything. “Samples were taken from all over the cabin. No hair was found, not even on the sofas he would have sat on. They only found a mix of samples, with a little of his DNA on a mug. That could have been put there by a person my client had previously had contact with”.

    During his final statement to the Court, Abdi Hassan denied the charges: “I didn’t attack the Belgian ship. I have been designated by Somalian authorities to fight the pirates”.

    Mohamed Moalin-Aden, who was sentenced to 5 years in prison by the Court of First Instance for belonging to a criminal organisation, has also denied being involved. The federal Prosecutor says Moalin-Aden gave logistical and financial support to pirates attacking ships like the Pompei near Somalia. Moalin-Aden faces 10 years in prison and having 3 million euros confiscated. Filip Van Hende and Thomas Gilis, his lawyers, have said he is no more than a corrupt civil servant who asked for more money before the hostages were released. “He made no final decision. At most he got 90,000 dollars”.

    The judgement will be on the 21st of April.

    Maria Novak (Source: Belga)