Federal court sentenced Somali pirates to life in prison

On March 14, 2011, the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia sentenced five Somali pirates to life in prison for their attack on the the US destroyer USS Nicholas. The sentence followed the rejection of an appeal by the pirates, which claimed that the accused men did not board or rob the ship, and that the court's nineteenth century definition of piracy was outdated. This prosecution was the first conviction for piracy in the US since 1820. A maritime piracy conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison, and each of the men received an additional 80 years of imprisonment for related charges. Since late 2009, Somali pirates have also been prosecuted in Germany, Yemen, and Spain.


Coat of arms of Somalia

Learn more about the laws governing piracy and Somali pirates from the JURIST news archive.

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