Somalia wants its pirates in Kenya jails sent home

MOMBASA COUNTY: The Somalia government now says it hopes Kenya will allow the transfer 122 convicted Somali pirates from Kenyan jails back to Somalia suggesting there are negotiations to this effect between the two states.

Most of the pirates are held at Mombasa's Shimo la Tewa prison and are deemed dangerous.

Somalia's ambassador to Kenya, Mohammed Ali Nur quoted by Radio Ergo in a special interview Monday said that if an agreement is reached, over 122 convicted Somalis serving prison terms at the Shimo la Tewa Maximum Security Prison, Mombasa for piracy related offences would be repatriated to Somalia to serve out the remainder of their sentences in Somali prisons.

Some of the pirate prisoners are serving jail terms of between 5 and 20 years, the ambassador said.

They are complaining of bad living conditions in the Kenyan prisons and have requested to be transferred back to Somalia, according to the radio report.

"I visited them at the Shimo La Tewa Prison recently. Some of them are recovering from injuries they sustained on the high seas, others have got bullets in their bodies and need surgery, while others are suffering from illnesses like diabetes and hypertension," the ambassador is quoted as saying.

He added that the Somali embassy was pushing hard to get an agreement with the Kenyan government soon.

Relatives of some of the pirate prisoners had also been pressurising the embassy to speed up the process of bringing the convicts back.

Speaking about the repatriation process of Somali refugees in Kenya, meanwhile, the envoy said that negotiations were moving on smoothly and that the Somali government, in collaboration with international aid agencies, was engaged in improving social services and security in areas liberated from the Al-Shabaab militant group, before the start of any repatriation exercise.

He said thousands of Somali refugees had voluntarily returned to their country with the help of the embassy in Nairobi, which had issued travel documents for them.

Many others had approached the embassy and were willing to go back home.