Five arrested Somali pirates face life terms for attacking US Navy ship

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Washington, Nov 26 (ANI): Five Somali pirates are believed to be the first people to have been convicted in a US court in more than a century for attacking an American navy ship off the coast of Africa on April 1.

The verdict was handed down by a district court jury in Norfolk, Virginia.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, all five men face life prison terms at a hearing set for 14 March.

Federal prosecutors said the men believed that the ship on the dark horizon was a merchant vessel, which they could seize and hold for ransom. He also said that after spotting the lights of the ship, three of the men-Mohammed Modin Hasan, Gabul Abdullahi Ali, and Abdi Wali Dire, who were armed with two AK-47 assault rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade, attacked the ship.

According to court documents, these three men were in a skiff that opened fire on the USS Nicholas with assault rifles, and tried to flee when sailors returned fire with machine guns.

However, the crew of the Nicholas captured them and also located two other Somalis, Abdi Mohammed Gurewardher and Abdi Mohammed Umar, on a mother ship that had launched the attack.

Once on board the Nicholas, the men were questioned and, according to prosecutors, admitted their part in planned acts of piracy, the paper said.

At the trial, lawyers for the Somalis argued that their clients were fishermen who were forced by 'real' pirates to participate in attacks against shipping. But the rejected the defense, it added. (ANI)

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