South Korean prosecutor Jeong Jeom-Shik announced Friday that five Somali pirates [JURIST news archive] captured in January have been charged with six offenses, including attempted murder, maritime robbery and kidnapping. The attempted murder charge carries with it a possible life sentence. The pirates were captured during the Samho Jewelry raid [BBC report] last month, when South Korean commandos killed eight other pirates while rescuing all 21 crew members. Prosecutors believe that this is the same group of pirates responsible for hijacking another Samho ship [JoonAng Daily report], the Samho Dream, last year.
Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean is an ongoing international concern, and several countries have started taking legal action against suspected Somali pirates. Earlier this month, seven suspected Somali pirates appeared in Malaysian court [JURIST report], charged with firearms offenses and, if convicted, could face the death penalty. Malaysia was the first Asian country to take formal legal action against suspect pirates. The suspects, who did not enter pleas, were also arrested in January after allegedly firing at Malaysian authorities while hijacking a merchant ship in the Gulf of Aden. Three of the seven suspects are only 15 years old and will not face the death penalty because of their age.