reuters logoBy Gary Robertson

NORFOLK, Va., July 9 (Reuters) – Three Somalis were convicted on Monday of piracy, kidnapping and murder in the 2011 shooting deaths of four Americans sailing in the Indian Ocean off of Oman and could face the death penalty, according to court documents.

The three men – and eleven others who previously pleaded guilty – boarded the Americans’ yacht armed with assault rifles and planned to sail it to Somalia and hold the Americans for ransom. Instead, the hostages were killed by the pirates as they were being trailed by U.S. military forces.

A federal jury, which has been hearing the case since early June in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, found Ahmed Muse Salad, Abukar Osman Beyle and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar guilty on all 26 counts against them, according to court records.

The jury will be hearing more evidence during the sentencing phase of the trial later this month.

Scott and Jean Adam, retirees from Marina del Rey, California, and their friends Phyllis Macay and Robert Riggle, both of Seattle, were killed aboard the California couple’s 58-foot sloop, Quest.

Prosecutors have said all four passengers were asleep when the boat was boarded on Feb. 18, 2011, by the armed assailants.

Negotiations at sea by U.S. Navy officials to free the Americans failed after four days, according to the indictment. Navy SEALs subsequently raided the yacht, killing two of the hostage-takers and capturing the rest.

Some of the most emotional testimony during the trial came from Elizabeth Sem, daughter of yacht owner Scott Adam.

She was quoted in press accounts as saying her father, who had worked on the production crew of movies and TV shows including “The Dukes of Hazzard,” and “The Love Boat,” had attended a theological institute after he retired.

His sea voyages were part of his ministry, she said, adding that he handed out Bibles to people he met along the way. (Editing by Chris Francescani, G Crosse)

(c) 2013 Thomson Reuters, Click For Restrictions

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