Iran Denies Seizing Korean Ship and Holding Crew Hostage
By Sangmi Cha and Josh Smith SEOUL, Jan 5 (Reuters) – Iran denied on Tuesday it was using a South Korean ship and its crew as hostages, a day after...
Successful or not, if you attack a ship, you are a pirate… and you will be convicted. Period.
A federal jury in Virginia this week convicted five Somali men on piracy charges for their role in 2010 attack on the the USS Ashland, ending a landmark case that challenged the United State’s definition of piracy on the high seas.
“These defendants are headed where they belong: to federal prison,” said George Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office. “Let this send a clear message of deterrence to anyone who threatens those who traverse the high seas.”
During the attack on April 10, 2010, the five Somali men chased and fired upon the amphibious dock landing ship, USS Ashland, that they had somehow mistook for a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden. The attack was quickly “handled” by the heavily armed crew of the Ashland, who then apprehended the suspects and sank the skiffs.
During the original trial, lawyers for the defendants argued that since the pirates were never successful in boarding or robbing the Ashland, the piracy charge should be dismissed… and it was. Prosectors appealed in pursuit of the piracy charge and, as it turned out, a similar case was making its way through the federal appeals court in Virginia that involved another unsuccessful attack on a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Nicholas, where the pirates were convicted on piracy charges and sentenced to life in prison.
The appeals led to a May 2012 ruling by a federal grand jury on the definition of piracy on the high seas to include any attack on a ship even if unsuccessful, and uphold the convictions and life sentences in the case of the Nicholas attack while remanding the case involving the USS Ashland back to court.
The five men were later charged in a second superseding indictment that was filed on August 8, 2012.
“These men were pirates—plain and simple,” said Neil MacBride, a U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the case. “They attacked a ship hoping to hold it ransom for millions of dollars. Few crimes are older than piracy on the high seas, and today’s verdict shows that the United States takes it very seriously.”
The five men are scheduled to be sentenced on July 1 and July 2, 2013. The maximum sentence and the convictions are as follows:
The following are the names of those convicted:
Mohamed Ali Said, a/k/a Maxamad Cali Saciid; Mohamed Abdi Jama, a/k/a Mohammed Abdi Jamah; Abdicasiis Cabaase, a/k/a Ahmed Mahomood; Abdirazaq Abshir Osman, a/k/a Abdirasaq Abshir; and Mohamed Farah, a/k/a Mohamed Farraah Hassan.
Join the 67,271 members that receive our newsletter.
Have a news tip? Let us know.