Fed Jury Convicts 5 Pirates in Attack on USS Nicholas

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — They may not have fit the stereotype of Hollywood, but a federal jury in Norfolk, Va., nonetheless convicted five men from Somalia of engaging in piracy for their attack in April on the USS Nicholas, authorities said. It was believed to be the first piracy trial conviction in the United States since 1820.

“Today marks the first jury conviction of piracy in more than 190 years,” said U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride of Alexandria. “These five Somali pirates were convicted of an armed assault on the high seas against what they thought was a merchant vessel, but turned out to be a U.S. Navy frigate engaged in counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa.

“Modern-day pirates not only threaten human lives but also disrupt international commerce by extorting hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom payments,” he said.

The conviction came after nine days of trial. Those convicted included: Mohammed Modin Hasan, Gabul Abdullahi Ali, Abdi Wali Dire, Abdi Mohammed Gurewardher and Abdi Mohammed Umar, all from Somalia.

Authorities said they face a mandatory penalty of life in prison when they are sentenced on March 14, 2011.


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