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Russia court sentences Arctic Sea hijackers

A Russian court has jailed six men for crimes related to their roles in the 2009 hijacking of the MV Arctic Sea [Huffington Post report], reports [BBC report] on Friday said. A court in the country's town of Arkhangelsk handed out sentences ranging from 7 to 12 years in prison. Three of the hijackers were stateless, while the other three were respectively from Russian, Latvia and Estonia. The MV Arctic Sea, originally of Malta, was hijacked by the men in July of 2009 and cut off contact with the outside world shortly thereafter. The ship was found about two months later by the Russian navy and seized.

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Last month, a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York sentenced Somali pirate Abduwali Muse to 34 years in prison [JURIST report] 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. 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. Piracy near the continent of Africa has become an increasingly serious problem for private shipowners and many nations. Also last month, a Norwegian ship owner suggested that pirates should be executed on the spot when they attempt to hijack ships, a stance that drew criticism from the Norwegian government.

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