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US jury recommends life sentences for Somali pirates

A jury for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] recommended Friday that three Somali pirates convicted [JURIST report] of murdering four Americans receive life in prison sentences. The attack, which took place in 2011 approximately 40 miles off the coast of Somalia, involved 19 Somali pirates who held the Americans captive in hopes of a million dollar ransom. Prosecutors had pushed for the death penalty [WP report]. Judge Rebecca Beach Smith will issue an official sentencing judgement in November.

Various tribunals have attempted to prosecute Somali pirates. In February the Abu Dhabi Federal Appeals Court upheld [JURIST report] the sentences of 10 Somali pirates convicted of highjacking a UAE-owned bulk-carrier ship. Last October the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court of Hamburg issued sentences [JURIST report] for 10 Somalis who were involved in the hijacking the German freighter MS Taipan off the coast of Somalia. Last October an appeals court in Kenya ruled [JURIST report] that Kenyan courts have jurisdiction to try international piracy suspects.

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