Somali pirates receive life sentences from federal jury

03.08.2013 01:20

Three Somali men were sentenced Friday to
life in prison without the possibility of
release on charges they hijacked a sailboat in
2011 off the coast of Africa and killed the
four Americans they found on board.
It took a federal jury about 8 1/2 hours of
deliberation to reach the decision and reject
the pleas of prosecutors to sentence the men
to death.
"What everyone should be thinking about
today is the victims' families," Lawrence
Woodward Jr., one of seven defense
attorneys involved in the case, said outside
the courtroom.
While acknowledging he was "professionally
gratified" by the jury's decision, Woodward
stressed "our hearts go out to the families."
Reached by phone in California, the sister of
one of the victims lamented the jury did not
see fit to sentence the three men to death.
"I don't know how they can shoot someone
with an AK-47 and not get the death
penalty," Cynthia Macay said through tears.
"They almost will have a better life in prison
than in Somalia."
Ahmed Muse Salad, Abukar Osman Beyle and
Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar were convicted July
8 in U.S. District Court of 26 crimes - 22 of
which were punishable by death.
The charges stemmed from the deaths of
four Americans on Feb. 22, 2011, on a 58-
foot yacht named Quest. The victims were
Scott and Jean Adam, a California couple
who owned the boat, and Phyllis Patricia
Macay and Robert Riggle, both of Seattle,
who had joined them on the voyage.
FBI agents, Navy officials, and convicted
pirates who were involved in the fatal
hijacking testified during the trial. According
to prosecutors and court records, the Adams
and their friends were asleep at sea Feb. 18
when 19 men boarded the yacht armed with
assault rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade
launcher. They took control and began to sail
for Somalia, where they intended to conduct
ransom negotiations.
The hijackers never made it to shore,
however, and four days of negotiations at
sea with Navy officials failed.
Prosecutors said one of the pirates fired a
rocket-propelled grenade at the American
guided missile destroyer Sterett. Shortly
thereafter, Salad, Beyle and Abrar opened
fire on the hostages.