|There be pirates - and they are headed to jail!|
Five young Somali men face life in prison after being convicted of piracy in the April attack on a US Navy ship.Now, you know this going to get appealed because another U.S. District Judge in Norfolk has ruled that without a "robbery" component, the crime is not piracy. See discussion here and the links therein.
Prosecutors said the men attacked the USS Nicholas after mistaking it for a merchant ship and were out for as much as $40,000 (£24,800) in ransom money.
But the men's lawyers maintained the five only fired their weapons to attract attention and get help.
The verdict is the first in a piracy case in the US in nearly 200 years. The men face a mandatory life sentence.
The five men were convicted of piracy, attacking to plunder a maritime vessel, and assault with a dangerous weapon.
They were arrested in April, along with six others who were captured a few days later in waters near Djibouti after allegedly shooting at the USS Ashland, an amphibious vessel.
Lawyers for the men said they were fishermen who had been forced by pirates to attack the ship.
More on this decision later.
UPDATE: More from the AP here:
John S. Davis, an assistant U.S. attorney, had argued that three of the men were in a skiff that opened fire on the Nicholas with assault rifles, then fled when sailors returned fire with machine guns.
Davis said all the men later confessed to the attack in a confession to an interpreter aboard the Nicholas. He said they expected to make anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 from the ransom.
Other countries have recently held piracy trials, but legal and maritime scholars say one of the last in the U.S. was in 1861 when 13 Southern privateers aboard the schooner Savannah were prosecuted in New York City. The jury deadlocked.