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Three suspected Somali pirates charged with murder

By Val Ellis last modified Jul 19, 2011 09:16 AM

Published: 2011-07-19 09:16:43
Topics: Piracy Reports 2011

Three suspected Somali pirates were charged with murder on Friday in the slayings of four Americans aboard a hijacked yacht off the coast of Africa in February.

Ahmed Muse Salad, Abukar Osman Beyle and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar could face the death penalty if they are convicted. Attorneys for the men could not immediately be reached for comment after business hours Friday.

The Somalis are among 14 men who were charged with piracy, kidnapping and weapons violations in the hijacking of the yacht Quest. Eleven of those men have already pleaded guilty to piracy for their roles in the case, although prosecutors have said none of those men shot the Americans or ordered anyone else to. As part of a plea deal, the pirates agreed to cooperate with authorities in this case and possibly others in exchange for the possibility of having their mandatory life sentences reduced.

The murder charges were among several new charges handed down by a grand jury that carry the possibility of the death penalty. They include hostage taking resulting in death, violence against maritime navigation resulting in death and kidnapping resulting in death. In total, 22 of the 26 counts are death-eligible offenses.

"The charges announced in today's superseding indictment send a strong message to those who seek to harm Americans on the high seas: you will be subject to American justice," FBI Assistant Director in Charge Janice Fedarcyk said in a statement. "Modern-day pirates remain a very real danger; the FBI joins our international law enforcement partners in our mutual goal of maintaining the rule of law on the high seas."

The owners of the Quest, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., along with friends Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle, were shot to death several days after being taken hostage several hundred miles south of Oman.

The Adams had been sailing full-time on their 58-foot yacht since December 2004 after retiring.

They were the first U.S. citizens killed in a wave of pirate attacks that have plagued the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean in recent years, despite an international flotilla of warships that patrol the area. One of the men who has pleaded guilty was once a pirate victim himself. Others charged in the case have said they boarded the yacht while it sat still in the water and the Americans were sleeping.

Article posted by BROCK VERGAKIS, Associated Press on July 08, 2011
Our thanks to FollowTheBoat for passing on this report.