Multiple life sentences for pirates
A federal judge in Virginia has sentenced two more Somali pirates to 19 consecutive life sentences in prison for their roles in the shooting deaths of four Americans.
Chief District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith sentenced Abukar Osman Beyle and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar yesterday and today.
They each received the same sentence as Ahmed Muse Salad, who was sentenced on Tuesday. Prosecutors had originally sought the death penalty.
The three Somalis were convicted in the 2011 murders of the Americans aboard the yacht Quest off the coast of Africa.
The men were among 19 who boarded the yacht in hopes of taking the Americans back to Somalia so they could be ransomed for millions of dollars. The plan fell apart when the US Navy began shadowing the 58-foot sailboat.
Beyle, 33, and Abrar, 31, will serve 21 life sentences in all, 19 of them consecutively.
Ahmed Muse Salad, 27, received the same terms on Tuesday. Prosecutors had originally sought the death penalty.
With the yacht nearing the Somali coastline, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at the US destroyer tailing it. Soon after, dozens of gunshots were fired on the yacht.
By the time US Navy SEALs scrambled on board, the Americans had been mortally wounded. Four pirates also died.
The yacht's owners, Jean and Scott Adam, and their friends, Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay, were the first Americans to be killed in a wave of pirate attacks that have plagued the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean in recent years.
Prosecutors said the three men who were sentenced this week were among a group of more aggressive pirates who favoured killing the Americans rather than surrendering to the navy. Prosecutors say the men repeatedly fired AK-47s at the Americans, who were shot 41 times.
The men were also convicted of kidnapping, hostage taking and piracy, among other things.
Eleven other men who boarded the yacht have already been sentenced to life in prison, although those sentences might eventually be reduced for co-operating with prosecutors.
One person was released by US authorities following the shootings because he was a juvenile.