A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] on Monday sentenced [press release] Somali citizen Jama Idle Ibrahim to 30 years in prison for an April attack on the USS Ashland in the Gulf of Aden. Ibrahim, originally charged with piracy [JURIST news archive], reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty [JURIST report] to charges of attacking to plunder a vessel, committing an act of violence against persons on a vessel and the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence. Monday's sentencing marks the first in Norfolk for acts of piracy in more than 150 years. Ibrahim still faces additional sentencing after pleading guilty [JURIST report] in the District of Columbia to charges relating to a 2008 attack on the M/V CEC Future.
Earlier this month, a federal jury in Virginia convicted [JURIST report] five Somali men on charges of piracy for their roles in an April attack on the USS Nichols. In August, piracy charges against Ibrahim and five other defendants were dismissed [JURIST report] when federal Judge Raymond Jackson ruled that piracy, as defined by the law of nations, does not include violence or aggression committed on the high seas, and rejected the government's argument for an expanded reading of the statute. Piracy remains an issue of international concern, as few countries have been willing to prosecute suspected pirates. The few that have attempted to do so include Germany, Kenya, Seychelles, the Netherlands, Mauritius, Yemen, Somalia and Spain [JURIST reports].