Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Piracy Charges Thrown Dismissed In Virginia

A judge in Norfolk, Virginia, yesterday dismissed piracy charges against six Somalis accused of attacking the USS Ashland last April (see my earlier post about the early stages of this incident here). As the Voice Of America reports, the reason appears to be because the men did not actually board or take control of the warship, which is what U.S. statutes define as being acts of piracy. For those who might be angered by this decision, it is important to remember a couple of things.

One is that vigilante justice - "hanging them from the yardarm", so to speak - is not the way to deal with piracy in the 21st century. Maritime criminals like pirates operate outside the rule of law. We cannot stoop to their level. The system of beliefs that supports law and order goes far beyond the confines of a Virginian courtroom. It is international, transcending borders and cultures. It's what separates the thugs and bad guys from most of the rest of us. And if we don't like the existing laws, then we can try to change them.

In the meantime, we have to work with we're given. And for the six Somalis in a Virginia prison, there are still a number of legal issues to be dealt with. I recommend checking out EagleSpeak's take on things (see here ). He's an American attorney and retired US Navy officer, after all. These guys aren't going to be chewing khat again anytime soon. I hope.

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