Federal judge sentences Somali pirate to 25 years in prison

A Somali pirate was sentenced by the US District Court for the District of Columbia on April 7 to 25 years in prison for attacking a Danish ship off the coast of Somalia in 2008, for which he and other pirates received a $1.7 million ransom. US Department of Justice officials say Jama Idle Ibrahim, who pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit piracy and conspiracy to use a firearm during a violent crime, and other Somali men were armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades when they seized the Danish vessel MV CEC Future and held its 13-member crew for ransom. Ibrahim's sentence will run concurrent with the 30-year sentence he received in November, stemming from a failed assault on the Navy's USS Ashland.

In November, a federal jury in Virginia convicted five Somali men on charges of piracy for their roles in an April attack on the USS Nichols. In August, piracy charges against Ibrahim and five other defendants were dismissed when federal Judge Raymond Jackson ruled that piracy, as defined by the law of nations, does not include violence or aggression committed on the high seas, and rejected the government's argument for an expanded reading of the statute. Piracy remains an issue of international concern, as few countries have been willing to prosecute suspected pirates. The few that have attempted to do so include Germany, Seychelles, the Netherlands, Mauritius, Yemen, Somalia and Spain.

From Jurist, April 7. Used with permission.

See our last posts on Somalia and the pirates.

Somali man indicted in US as pirate leader

A suspected Somali pirate leader appeared for a detention hearing in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on April 13 after his March 8 indictment was unsealed. In his announcement, US Attorney Neil MacBride wrote, "Today marks the first time that the U.S. government has captured and charged an alleged pirate in a leadership role—a hostage negotiator who operated in Somalia." Mohammad Saaili Shibin, 50, was reportedly captured by the FBI and military on April 4 and sent to the US to face criminal charges for negotiating ransom payments for four Americans who were kidnapped in February when their yacht was hijacked near Oman. All four hostages were subsequently killed. (Jurist, April 14)