Two Somali men pleaded guilty [press release] Monday to charges of piracy for their role in hijacking a yacht, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans. The guilty pleas by Jilani Abdiali and Burhan Abdirahman Yusuf join those entered Friday by Mohamud Hirs Issa Ali [JURIST report], Mohamud Salad Ali and Ali Abdi Mohamed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website]. The men have all admitted to engaging in piracy for financial gain and participating in the taking of the Quest. They deny personally shooting the hostages. US Attorney Neil MacBride said:
These Somali pirates admitted that they hijacked a US ship planning to make a big ransom off the four American hostages. Tragically, their co-conspirators gunned down the hostages in cold blood and these pirates now face spending the rest of their lives in prison, We hope the string of convictions in this and other cases help send a message to others that piracy against American vessels will not be tolerated.Sentencing is scheduled for August 22 for Yusuf and September 6 for Abdiali. Both are expected to receive sentences of life in prison. Under the plea agreement, however, they could serve less time and eventually be deported to Somalia. There were 14 suspects indicted [JURIST report] in connection with the attack, and others are expected to plead guilty soon.
Earlier this month, Spain's National Court sentenced [JURIST report] two Somali pirates to 439 years in prison each for their involvement in the 2009 hijacking of a Spanish fishing boat off the coast of Somalia. Last month, a US district court sentenced a Somali pirate to 25 years in prison [JURIST report] for his role in attacking a Danish ship, as well as the US 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 six 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].
5:00 PM ~ Two more Somali pirates pleaded guilty [press release] Tuesday.
5/25/11 ~ And two more pleaded guilty [press release] Wednesday, bringing the total to nine.