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Somali teen pirate to stand trial as adult in U.S.

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A teenage pirate captured by U.S. forces in a high-seas drama off Somalia was ordered to stand trial here as an adult Tuesday on charges that include "piracy under the law of nations."

Abdi Wali Abdi Khadir Muse, wearing a blue T-shirt and with head lowered as he entered the court with an interpreter, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted on the most serious charge, prosecutors said.

Judge Andrew Peck ruled the young Somali would be tried as an adult after rejecting a claim by the defendant's father that Muse was only 15 years old. Prosecutors said he was over 18.

"Mr Muse's father's testimony was not credible," said Peck. "The court ruled that the defendant must be treated as an adult."

The five charges filed against Muse were piracy "under the law of nations," conspiracy to seize a ship by force, conspiracy to take hostages, and discharging and brandishing a firearm in the course of a hostage-taking.

Muse was one of four Somali pirates who swarmed the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama on April 8, and later fled taking its American captain, Richard Phillips, as a hostage in a small life boat.

Muse, who prosecutors described as the group's leader, was taken into custody April 12 after he boarded the USS Bainbridge to demand safe passage in return for Phillips's release.

On the fifth day of the ordeal, U.S. Navy snipers shot dead the other three pirates and rescued Phillips.

Flown to New York late Monday, a smiling Muse was led by federal agents past a bank of media cameras and into New York's Federal Plaza in a driving rainstorm after his arrival.

His left hand was heavily bandaged with white gauze, the result of an injury sustained aboard the Maersk Alabama when a U.S. crewmember stabbed him during a struggle for control of the freighter.

The Maersk Alabama saga captured the world's attention and vividly highlighted the dangers posed by low-tech pirates in some of the world's most strategic shipping lanes.

The incident was highly unusual because the unarmed, all-American crew fought back and prevented the pirates from taking control of their vessel.

Phillips returned home to Vermont on Friday to a hero's welcome.

An issue surrounding Muse's capture and the unusual decision to try him in the US courts was his age.

Reports out of New York said he was 19. But Voice of America reported that his father, Abdilkadir Muse, said his son was 16 years old, and had not been in previous trouble.

A court-appointed lawyer Phil Weinstein told the court he had spoken to the alleged pirate's father by telephone.

"He says his son was born on Nov 20, 1993," which would make him 15, Weinstein said.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that if Muse is indicted by a grand jury it would be the first major test in years of American anti-piracy laws, which date back to the 19th century.

"Trying pirates in the U.S. for an attack on an American vessel makes more sense than any other scenario I can think of," piracy law expert Samuel Menefee told The Washington Post.

"If there are any problems with American law, certainly now is the time to find out so that we can bring our law on the subject into the 21st century."

The hijacking of the Maersk Alabama was an early test of the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama and has prompted calls for tightened measures to protect U.S. ships in the busy shipping lanes off the Horn of Africa.

One U.S. senator, Dianne Feinstein, on Monday called for U.S.-flagged vessels operating in pirate-cruised waters off Somalia's coast to carry armed security teams, and has written to Obama proposing the measure.

"I believe that any U.S.-flag shipping vessel operating in the Gulf of Aden or the Straits of Malacca -- or in any other high piracy zone -- should be required to have armed security teams aboard," said Feinstein.

Muse's court appearance comes as other Somali pirates on Tuesday released an Asian chemical tanker they captured five months ago.

But they are still holding at least 17 other ships as high-seas attacks in 2009 soared to record levels.

© Wire reports

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

23 Comments
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Flown to New York late Monday, a smiling Muse was led by federal agents past a bank of media cameras and into New York’s Federal Plaza

Kidnapping. Plain and simple. Canada released their prisoners, (as difficult as it was) because they do not try to take over the world. Here comes another Guantanamo. No doubt there are lots of bad pirates out there. We all know this is true. But why are they being judged by America for crimes not comitted in America? No other nation does this.

No wonder so many people hate America.

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It's not kidnapping at all: the US has every right to put this guy on trial for piracy, extortion, hostage taking etc. He should think himself lucky he wasn't shot like his mates. Besides, a lifetime in a US jail is better than a life in the cesspit that is Somalia.

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Besides, a lifetime in a US jail is better than a life in the cesspit that is Somalia.

It`s not better than life in a cesspit with a million-dollar ransom

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neverknow2

But why are they being judged by America for crimes not comitted in America?

Because he committed the crimes for which he is charged in international waters aboard a US flagged vessel. This gives the US sole jurisdiction over the case. Why is this simple fact so hard to understand?

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Thanks, USNin. Another informative post from you.

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Never Know: Wasn't he picked up in International waters? (No, I don't know).

Quit worrying, he already has a massive amount coming to his defense. Small, poor, Somali from a Muslim country.....c'mon, you really think he is going to get charged with anything?

Because he committed the crimes for which he is charged in international waters aboard a US flagged vessel. " Ah, now I understand.

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One way to get into the US I suppose. Three square meals a day and all that. Clean sheets, running water, etc. What more could a young man wish for.

Then again, he will probably miss those long African nights under the stars looking deep into the eyes of his pet goat.

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Rumor is Oprah has plans for the young freebooter.

http://somalipirate.livejournal.com/

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Gee never2know, I guess you will never know unless you read the comments in answer to your question. The US Navy is doing what it's supposed to be doing. The Canadians should have handed their pirate over to the nation whose ship was attacked so he could have been prosecuted in that nation for piracy. Do the crime be prepared to do the time. Shame on Canada for letting him go. Hope the next navy does exactly what the US Navy did.

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The US should not be wasting our time and tax dollars with this Somali looser. Just kill them at sea, dump them over board, let the sharks etc..do their thing and he will never make it to the Oprah show right?

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i see a new reality TV program coming on "the young pirate"

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The US should not be wasting our time and tax dollars with this Somali looser. Just kill them at sea, dump them over board, let the sharks etc..do their thing and he will never make it to the Oprah show right?

Wrong. Unfortunately, life is not so simple. The last time I looked the US Navy was not hanging the jolly roger from the yard-arm (it wasn't hanging sailors from there either). As USNinJapan pointed out, this guy is subject to international laws of the seas and SOPs. As such, he has his rights to a day in court, after which he will be dealt with accordingly.

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“Mr Muse’s father’s testimony was not credible,” said Peck. “The court ruled that the defendant must be treated as an adult.”

I would take the word of the father over the eye-ball of the authorities any day.

No reason to get all vengeful on this teen or make some sort of an example of him. Three of his buddies got shot dead. Statement made. If a birth certificate or some sort of other evidence cannot be found, try him as a teen.

The incident was highly unusual because the unarmed, all-American crew fought

Unarmed eh? Then what is this about:

His left hand was heavily bandaged with white gauze, the result of an injury sustained aboard the Maersk Alabama when a U.S. crewmember stabbed him during a struggle for control of the freighter.

Maybe lightly armed would be a better description. I don't envy a man with a knife facing AK-47s, but a knife is still a weapon.

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Good.

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How have they judged he is 18 years old? Am assuming the reasoning is that they want to charge him as an adult and so have decided he must be 18. It's not as if they can cut him open and count the number of rings in his innards.

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The standard of piracy has deteriorated since the days of Bluebeard.

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I thought the Pirates of the Carribean belonged to a gone - by era.

History indeed, as they say, repeats iteslf.

--

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Isn't there any scientific way of determining his age?

The father, for all we know, could have been one of the pirate masters. Says his mother on a telephone conversation said he was 16. Well, I've been to Somalia, I'd like to meet a person there with a phone.

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sunny117: History indeed, as they say, repeats iteslf.

Piracy has slowed down from time to time, but its never left the world.

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It really doesn't matter if he was 18 or not, but if he was an American his parents would be liable if he was under 18 =better if tryed at >18.

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I say reform his butt and turn him into an expert pirate negotiatior. I am sure he already speaks the lingo. And he has a little personal and true anecdote to share about how pirates get shot dead by American snipers!

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Some of this situation is easy to sort out, some may well turn into a legal game for lawyers that want to become famous. The easy bit is that this little boy pirate is being tried in the US because the ship he attacked was flying a US flag, not a Mickey Mouse flag of convenience, that flag made that ship a little bit of floating America, where ever it happened to be. Besides you will find that most counties that have reasonably functional legal systems allow for prosecuting foreign nationals that commit crimes against their people, so long as that foreign nation enters their jurisdiction, & it is that detail that might throw a spanner in the works because was the arrest of this pirate legal? There is some question that he was on the US ship under a truce & as such should not have been arrested, strange but then this was not down town USA, this out in the Indian ocean, Then again was the pirate read his rights? A big deal in the US. Add to this if he can be proven to be under 18 then the US have removed a minor from an other country without parental authority, be he a criminal or not that is a no no. This can be an easy show trial or a can of worms & my money is on a can of worms because there are just too many lawyers in the US for it to turn into anything else. This is going to be worth watching.

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This kid tried to steal a ship at armed gunpoint with threat of death to crewmembers. I have no pity for the little creep and wish him a speedy demise. But unfortunately due to political correctness this little creep pirate will probably get off with a slapped wrist. The navy should have shot him and dumped his body in the sea.

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