Mogadishu: A Mogadishu court jailed 14
Indian sailors for a year for illegally exporting charcoal,
court sources said on Sunday.
The sailors were arrested last week by Somali coast
guards. Nine of the 14 were present in court yesterday.
"The court sentenced 14 Indian sailors and a Somali
woman" who was the owner of the charcoal, judge Hashi Elmi Nur
said, adding that the sailors could avoid serving the
prison term by paying USD 10,000 (7,500 euros).
In their defence, lawyer Hassan Abdule Farayare argued
that because the charcoal had been exported from zones
controlled by Islamic insurgents, the court was not competent
to try the case.
"The boat and the crew members are not guilty because
they exported charcoal from areas the government does not
control," he said.
It was the first time that a court had tried foreign
nationals for illegally exporting charcoal.
Charcoal is an important source of revenue for the
country`s al Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels, which control
Kismayo, the biggest port in the south of the country.
According to Andrew Mwangura, who heads the East African
Seafarers Assistance Programme and closely monitors illegal
maritime activity in the region, charcoal is one of the main
commodities transiting through Kismayo.
He estimated that the Shebab derive monthly revenue of
approximately half a million dollars from berth, import and
export taxes in Kismayo alone.
Several other ships carrying charcoal are also believed
to leave Somalia from the port of Barawe, further north.
Most of the charcoal smugglers use Indian dhows to take
their cargo to Gulf states, notably the United Arab Emirates
where the import of charcoal is not banned.
While charcoal exports have become a significant source
of income for the Western-backed Somali government`s insurgent
enemies, charcoal burning has also caused huge damage to the
The resulting deforestation has complicated livestock
herding in some regions and further exposed the population to
the impact of droughts.