Somali pirates sentenced to five years in Kenya

Seven Somali pirates sit in the dock at the Mombasa Law Courts, 23 September 2010 in Mombasa, Kenya
Image caption The men will be deported back to Somalia after serving their sentences

A Kenyan court has sentenced seven Somali pirates to five years in prison for attacking a Spanish ship last year.

The seven are the third pirate gang jailed since foreign warships started patrolling the area two years ago.

They have been held in Mombasa since being captured by the Spanish navy while trying to hijack the Maltese-flagged merchant ship Anny Petrakis.

In recent years, pirates have extended their reach further from the shores of East Africa.

Although the pirates' success rate has fallen due to patrols, attacks have continued, and suspects are regularly freed because of doubts about where they should face trial.

Pirate 'burden'

"I have concrete proof that you attacked a vessel in the high seas and I order you to serve five years in prison," the presiding magistrate, Timothy Ole Tanchut, said.

Mr Tanchut said the men would be sent back to Somalia after serving their terms.

About 15 pirates are serving prison sentences in Kenya and some 100 are in custody.

Kenya has signed agreements with the European Union relating to the prosecution of piracy suspects, but has said that other countries must agree to share the "burden".

The court in Mombasa was funded by international donors, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the European Union, Australia and Canada.

Last year, Somali pirates carried out more than 200 attacks, including 68 successful hijackings and receiving $50m (£32m) paid out in ransoms, according to unofficial figures - making it the most active year yet.