Somali pirates might be allowing themselves to be deliberately captured in order to take advantage of European asylum laws, Dutch legal experts have warned.
Geert-Jan Knoops, an international criminal law attorney and professor at the Royal University of Utrecht, has suggested that the Dutch trial might encourage pirates to surrender just in order to seek a better life in Western countries.
"These trials may trigger other pirates to let themselves be arrested on purpose," he told the Volkskrant newspaper.
"The Dutch Justice department must be cautious. I cannot imagine the five alleged pirates would voluntarily return to Somalia after their conviction."
The five Somali pirates were arrested off the coast of Africa in January by Danish marines after attacking the Samanyulo, a Dutch-flagged cargo ship.
But since Somalia has a record of international human rights violations it will be almost impossible to deport the men after their conviction in the Netherlands.
"Life is good here," said one of the defendants, named Sayid, about his experience in a Dutch jail.
"I appeal to the government not to send me back to Somalia. The people who live here respect human rights. I wish to settle here."
Willem-Jan Ausma, a Dutch defence attorney who is representing another pirate, described his client's relief to be in a Western prison.
"My client feels safe here. His own village is dominated by poverty and sharia [Islamic law] but here he has good food and can play football and watch television. He thinks the lavatory in his cell is fantastic," he said.
Mr Ausma has told the Somali that he will be considered for a residence permit after serving his sentence, expected to be a maximum of four years in prison.
"He intends to send for his wife and children as soon as he is released from prison. He knows he cannot easily be sent back to Somalia. He loves it here in the Netherlands," Mr Ausma told the NRC Handelsblad newspaper.
Mr Ausma has also warned that ongoing piracy trials in the Netherlands, France and the United States will encourage pirates to commit crimes, for the purpose of being captured, rather than deterring attacks on Western flagged vessels.
"Anything is better than Somalia," he said.
Prof Knoops has called for an international tribunal to deal with Somali pirates.
"This would immediately solve a large number of problems, because there are good reasons why many countries do not wish to burn their fingers on the pirates," he said.