Somalia jailed an American, three Britons and two Kenyans for illegally bringing $3.6 million in cash into the country, allegedly to pay ransoms for two ships seized by pirates.
The six men were sentenced to between 10 and 15 years in prison.
Piracy news from JOC:
Pirates Paid $21 Million to Release Hostages.
The men were arrested May 24 shortly after they landed in a small plane at Mogadishu airport and were waiting to transfer the cash to another aircraft that was to fly it to another part of the war-torn African country.
The two men charged with carrying the cash received 15-year sentences and were fined $15,000 each, and the other four, including the pilot, got 10 years and fines of $10,000.
Three of the defendants, including the pilot, were employees of a Nairobi, Kenya-based security firm.
The Somali government officially bans the payment of ransoms in a bid to stamp out piracy but the practice has become routine. This is the first time westerners have been sentenced for breaking this law.
The International Maritime Bureau said pirates took a record 1,181 hostages and seized 53 ships in 2010, all but four by Somali pirates.
The UN estimates ship-owners paid more than $110 million to release hijacked ships last year.
-- Contact Bruce Barnard at firstname.lastname@example.org.