A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] on Monday sentenced a Somali man to life in prison for his role in the hijacking of a US vessel that resulted in the deaths of four US citizens. They were the first US citizens to die in the recent wave of international maritime piracy attacks. Ali Abdi Mohamed was the first to be sentenced [AP report] of 11 men who pleaded guilty to hijacking a US yacht called Quest in February. Three others pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] last month and will face trial. Mohamed apologized to the victims' families Monday and has agreed to assist prosecutors in their cases against the other suspects.
Maritime piracy [JURIST news archive] off the coast of African continues to be a global concern. Last week, a Dutch court sentenced [JURIST report] five Somali men to prison terms ranging from four to seven years for acts of maritime piracy. In May, courts in both Spain and South Korea [JURIST reports] sentenced Somali pirates to life imprisonment. In April, a Somali pirate was sentenced [JURIST report] by the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] to 25 years in prison for attacking a Danish ship off the coast of Somalia in 2008, for which he and other pirates received a $1.7 million ransom.
4:32 PM ET ~ A second Somali, Burhan Abdirahman Yusuf, was also sentenced to life in prison Monday.