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Somali pirates sentenced to life for death of US citizens

A judge for the US District Court Eastern District of Virginia [official website] on Friday sentenced Somali pirates Abukar Osman Beyle and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar to 21 life sentences for their role in the killing of four Americans aboard a yacht off the Horn of Africa in February 2011. Fourteen of the 19 people who participated in the attack have now been sentenced [Reuters report] to life sentences [JURIST report] after pleading guilty. The victims—Scott Adam, Jean Adam, Phyllis Macay and Robert Riggle—were sailing around the world when their yacht was attacked. The victims were killed when negotiations between the pirates and the US Navy broke down, and Navy SEALs attempted to save the hostages. Dana Boente, acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, believes [BBC report] that the consecutive life sentences send a strong message that piracy and hostage-taking will not be tolerated. Prosecutors had pushed for the death penalty, but a jury in August recommended [JURIST report] that the three Somali pirates serve life in prison.

A number of countries around the world have taken actions in the attempt to solve the problem of maritime piracy [JURIST news archive]. Last month three Somali pirates accused of hijacking [JURIST report] a private yacht off the coast of Somalia in 2009 went on trial in France. In February the Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal Court upheld the sentences [JURIST report] of 10 Somali pirates convicted of highjacking a UAE-owned bulk-carrier ship in April 2011. In October 2012 the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court of Hamburg [official website, in German] issued sentences [JURIST report] for 10 Somalis who were involved in the hijacking the German freighter MS Taipan off the coast of Somalia two years ago.

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