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Kenyan Court Denies Bail to Alleged Somali Pirates.

(MOGADISHU, 11 March 2006 — A Kenyan court on Thursday rejected a bail application by 10 Somali men facing piracy charges, arguing that their offenses were too serious and they could be sentenced for life if found guilty. Mombasa Magistrate Beatrice Jaden ruled against the application after prosecutors said the accused did not have identification documents and that police were unable to establish their residence in Somalia. “I believe that the prosecution has a strong case against the accused and I urge you to dismiss the application,” state counsel Vincent Mondahe said. But defense lawyer Mohammed Khatib said that freeing his clients on bail was their constitutional right and the offense they are accused of is bailable. The 10 men were captured by the destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill, attached to the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, on Jan. 21 about 55 miles (85 kilometers) off the Somali coast, a day after an unsuccessful attack on a merchant ship. According to the charges, they are accused of allegedly hijacking an Indian vessel, Safina Al Bisaraat, threatening the lives of its 16-member crew and demanding a ransom of $50,000 (42,000 euros).

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United Nations aid agencies have begun a major campaign aiming to vaccinate 2.5 million children against measles in central and southern Somalia, a statement said. In a joint statement, the UN children’s fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), said that they (agencies) have put together a strong coalition of partners that includes local and international NGOs as well as community-based organizations to ensure the success of the campaign. The agencies said the campaign aims to enhance measles coverage throughout Somalia and to provide rapid protection to children in drought-affected areas facing famine and malnutrition. They said the campaign will be conducted in three phases starting with the worst-hit drought-affected regions of Gedo, Lower and Middle Jubba and Bay being covered in the first phase in March.

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A Mogadishu-based independent radio station has recently been awarded a media medal, a director of Mogadishu-based radio station said. Ahmed Ali Mohamoud, director of Radio Banadir, told Arab News that Egypt’s Information Ministry has recently awarded the medal to his station for airing a balanced and unbiased news reporting. Since 2000 many independent media outlets have emerged in Somalia. These independent radio stations were developed by Somali businessmen and Diasporas who returned in order to provide people with a voice and to produce fair and objective news in a country still in a state of civil turmoil. Mahamoud said that his radio station had won the Egyptian praise for its relative fairness and objectivity in covering a messy of political situation. “The Somalis throughout the world can discuss their affairs, express their opinion live through Radio Banadir which has never happened in Somali history before” he said.

Salad F. Dhuhul

Radio Banadir.

Muqdishu, Somalia.


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