Update: Le Ponant Trial Judgement

Our readers might remember Valerie Gabard’s guest post on the recent trial for the 2008 hijack of the French luxury yacht Le Ponant and the kidnap of its crew. After four years of pre-trial detention, two of the six Somali accused were acquitted, while the four others were convicted and sentenced to four to ten years of imprisonment.

We have now obtained the trial judgement in the case, issued by the 2nd Section of the Court d’Assise of Paris. Contrary to initial speculations, it seems that the Prosecution have decided not to appeal the Court’s decision, which is therefore final. Unfortunately, the judgement won’t shed much light on the Court’s motivations. In keeping with French practice for criminal trials, the judgement, at least when looked at from the perspective of international justice standards, is scantily reasoned, containing little or no more than the accusations against the accused, a recall of the main trial procedural steps and the court’s verdict.

It has to be recalled that the accused were charged with kidnapping, illegal confinement and organized gang theft in pursuance of Articles 224-6 of the French Criminal Code but not with a specific offence of committing piracy due to the temporary absence, in 2008, of a specific definition of piracy in the French criminal system. In the meantime, a new Anti-Piracy legislation was introduced in January 2011.

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