A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Federal judge sentences Somali pirate to nearly 34 years

A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] on Wednesday sentenced Somali pirate Abduwali Muse to 34 years in prison [FBI press release] for the 2009 hijacking of the vessel Maersk Alabama. Muse had originally pleaded guilty [JURIST report] in May to hijacking, kidnapping and taking hostages in the matter. Muse has claimed to be a minor at the time of the attack on the Maersk Alabama, an item used by his defense team in an effort to have the sentence reduced [Reuters report]. Judge Loretta Preska, unswayed by the defense, imposed a sentence on the high end of the range of possible sentences, saying that such a long prison term was necessary to deter piracy [Bloomberg report].

Piracy near the continent of Africa has become an increasingly serious problem for private shipowners and many nations. Also on Wednesday, a Norwegian ship owner suggested that pirates should be executed on the spot [AP report] when they attempt to hijack ships, a stance that drew criticism from the Norwegian government. While private citizens have their own opinions, the tact by governments has been to arrest and imprison pirates. In November, a Somali pirate was sentenced to 30 years in prison [JURIST report] by a federal judge in Virginia for an attack on a Navy vessel. One of the most active nations in trying suspected pirates is Kenya, which has opened a court entirely devoted to hearing piracy cases [JURIST report].

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.