Somalians sentenced to 80 years of imprisonment for piracy

"Today marks the longest sentence ever given to a pirate in US court, following the first time in over 190 years that an American jury has convicted a defendant of piracy," said Attorney Neil MacBride in a statement.

The five men – Mohammed Modin Hasan, Gabul Abdullahi Ali, Abdi Wali Dire, Abdi Mohammed Gurewardher and Abdi Mohammed Umar, all from Somalia –  were accused of piracy, attack to plunder a vessel, act of violence against persons on a vessel, assault with a dangerous weapon.

"Today's sentences should send a clear message to those who attempt to engage in piracy: Armed attacks on US-flagged vessels carry severe consequences in US courts," MacBride said.

"Modern-day pirates not only threaten human lives but also disrupt international commerce by extorting hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom payments. It is believed that between 650 to 800 people are held hostage by Somali pirates and that the global cost of piracy is as high as USD 12 billion annually," he said.

The Somalis were indicted on April 21, and were later charged with additional crimes in a 14-count superseding indictment on July 7, 2010.

According to evidence and trial testimony, the five men left Somalia in search of a merchant ship to pirate.

They used a larger ship full of supplies, along with two smaller vessels loaded with assault weapons and a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) that served as attack boats.
On April 1, 2010, Hasan, Ali and Dire boarded one of these smaller vessels and set out to pirate what they believed to be a merchant ship, while Gurewardher and Umar remained onboard the large ship to maintain that ship during the attack.

Ali and Dire each carried an assault weapon and Hasan carried an RPG.
They opened fire on a ship, which they later discovered was the USS Nicholas, an Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate homeported in Norfolk, Virginia.

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