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With the resolution of the hostage situation off the coast of Somalia, the world's attention turned to the fate of the sole pirate captured in the ordeal, as well as the United State's policy towards future pirate attacks on U.S. vessels and sailors in international waters. As a result, journalists have been relying on Albany Law School Professor James Thuo Gathii for insight into this complex situation.
In an interview with the Washington Times on April 9, Prof. Gathii explained that this case is the first involving Somali pirates in which U.S. law would apply, and that the United States had previously signed an agreement with Kenya to prosecute Somali pirates. "Because there is no legal system in Somalia" he said in the interview, "they were looking for neighboring countries to take up the slack because Somalia couldn't do it."
And in an interview with The Christian Science Monitor, he said, "This is a case where the evidence of holding hostage an American citizen was available for the whole world to see. The problem the Department of Justice and Department of Defense might fear is the fact that a trial in the United States—unlike in Kenya—would mean the defendant would have high-flying attorneys who are likely to raise all sorts of defense motions and arguments about evidence."
Professor Gathii also wrote an editorial on this issue that ran in Business Daily Africaon 4/15.
Professor Gathii is the Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship and the Governor George E. Pataki Chair of International Commercial Law at Albany Law School, where he has been on the faculty since 2001. His research and expertise are in the areas of public international law, international economic, international intellectual property and trade law, as well as on issues of good governance and legal reform as they relate to the third world and sub-Saharan Africa in particular. He has published more than 40 articles and book chapters, including the recent " Jurisdiction to Prosecute Non-National Pirates Captured by Third States Under Kenyan and International Law."