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August 3, 2013

Federal jury rejects death penalty for murderous Somali pirates

As reported in this AP piece, a "jury recommended Friday that three Somali pirates be sentenced to life in prison in the slayings of four Americans aboard a yacht off the coast of Africa." Here is more on this notable sentencing decision:

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty, and 22 of the 26 crimes they were convicted of were death-eligible offenses. But a federal jury in Norfolk, Va., recommended the only other possible sentence for 20-year-old Ahmed Muse Salad, 25-year-old Abukar Osman Beyle and 29-year-old Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar.

During the sentencing phase of the trial, defense attorneys attempted to raise doubts about the certainty of the crimes the jury had convicted them of. Salad attorney Claire Cardwell noted that nobody was able to definitively say which person shot which victim, and that much of the evidence presented relied on testimony of other convicted pirates. If the jury and the government wanted to dole out justice by taking an eye for an eye, "Which eye, for which eye?" she asked....

The three men were among 19 who boarded the Quest in February 2011 several hundred miles off the coast of Somalia in hopes of taking the Americans back to Somalia and ransoming them for millions of dollars. The plan fell apart when the U.S. Navy began shadowing the sailing vessel. The yacht's owners, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., and their friends, Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle, were shot to death a few days after negotiations with the Navy broke down....

Prosecutors said the murders were planned, as evidenced by threats from the pirates to the Navy, but Cardwell said that made no sense for them to kill their hostages. By the time Navy SEALs scrambled aboard, all four Americans had been mortally wounded. Prosecutors said the Americans had been shot 41 times.

"Let's call it what it is. It was a massacre," Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph DePadilla told jurors while arguing for the death penalty during closing arguments earlier this week. The victims were the first U.S. citizens killed in a wave of pirate attacks that have plagued the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean in recent years. In their justification for seeking the death penalty, prosecutors wrote that the men killed or attempted to kill more than one person during a single episode. They also said their actions endangered the U.S. military and that the Americans were killed "in an especially wanton and gratuitous manner."...

Defense attorneys for Salad had argued he should not be eligible for the death penalty because they claimed he is mentally handicapped. Defense documents say Salad has a low IQ, a poor memory and had difficulty functioning as a child in Somalia. Defense attorneys also noted in court filings that his co-defendants describe Salad as "slow" and inept at fishing....

Eleven other defendants who were aboard the Quest have already pleaded guilty to piracy and have been sentenced to life in prison. Four other suspected pirates were killed aboard the yacht. A fifth suspected pirate was released because he was a juvenile.

August 3, 2013 at 05:11 PM | Permalink


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Deeply disturbing preview of what happens when terrorists are tried in civilian court. A lot of lawyer fast talking and prestidigitation. Great expense and procedure for no benefit, unpredictable, criminal coddling.

These pigs lived in the 15th Century. Federal prison will seem like Heaven on earth and a luxury resort.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 3, 2013 6:59:59 PM

Create a Somali prison environment.

Posted by: Just Plain Jim | Aug 4, 2013 5:54:02 AM

They need to be killed out there on the high seas. You don't take prisoners and bring them back for some trial. You make em walk the plank.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Aug 4, 2013 9:57:58 PM

And don't worry about the Sixth Commandment because east of Corfu the Ten Commandments Don't Apply.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Aug 4, 2013 9:59:53 PM

The "Old" Testament provided a long list of capital offenses, Liberty1st, so I still don't really know where that gets you. Is it also a command to be vegan?

Posted by: Joe | Aug 5, 2013 12:03:10 AM

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