A Somali pirate was sentenced by the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Thursday to 25 years in prison [press release, PDF] for attacking a Danish ship off the coast of Somalia in 2008, for which he and other pirates received a $1.7 million ransom. US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] officials say Jama Idle Ibrahim, who pleaded guilty [press release, PDF] last year to conspiracy to commit piracy and conspiracy to use a firearm during a violent crime, and other Somali men were armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades when they seized the Danish vessel M/V CEC Future and held its 13-member crew for ransom. Ibrahim's sentence will run concurrent with the 30-year sentence [JURIST report] he received in November, stemming from a failed assault on the Navy's USS Ashland.
In November, 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, Seychelles, the Netherlands, Mauritius, Yemen, Somalia and Spain [JURIST reports].