VICTORIA, Seychelles – With mouths shut and eyes downcast, a group of Somali men and boys sat around a table in the police station in Victoria, the Seychelles’ capital city on the island of Mahé.
A police officer un-cuffed the 11 prisoners, some of whom were barefoot, and left the room as their court-appointed lawyer explained that they faced seven years to life in prison on charges of piracy and terrorism.
“Make no mistake, you are facing some very, very, very serious charges,” defense lawyer Anthony Juliette said through an interpreter flown in from Kenya.
“The evidence against you is quite overwhelming,” said Juliette, while promising to do everything in his power to fight the charges against them.
It isn’t every day I find myself in a room full of alleged pirates. But that is where I was recently in the Seychelles, an archipelago made of 115 tropical islands in the Indian Ocean, about 900 miles off the east coast of Africa.