16 Nov 2013

Somali pirates sentenced to life in prison

7:28 am on 16 November 2013

A court in the United States has sentenced two Somali pirates to life in prison without parole for their role in the killing of four Americans aboard a yacht off the Horn of Africa in February 2011.

Abukar Osman Beyle and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar were convicted of murder, kidnapping, hostage-taking and piracy. Prosecutors had asked for the death penalty.

A third man, Ahmed Muse Salad, received the same life sentences on Tuesday.

Eleven other Somalis have already been sentenced to life in prison for their parts in the attack.

The hostages died after negotiations with the US Navy broke down. They were the yacht's owners, Jean Adam, 66, her husband Scott Adam, 70, and their two friends Phyllis Patricia Macay, 59, and Robert Riggle, 67.

The BBC reports they had been sailing round the world distributing Bibles when their yacht was boarded by pirates off the Horn of Africa on 18 February, 2011.

Prosecutors said the pirates intended to take their hostages to Somalia, so that they could be ransomed.

But the US Navy dispatched vessels to the aid of the yacht's crew after they sent out a distress signal.

Four days of negotiations between the US Navy and the pirates followed.

The court in Norfolk, Virginia, heard that the talks broke down as the yacht was approaching the Somali coastline. Shots were fired on board.

By the time US Navy Seals boarded the yacht, all four Americans were dead.