Somali pirate gets 12 life terms in boat hijackings


A pirate folds his arms over his high-caliber weapon near two boys standing next to plastic drums filled with gasoline on a beach in the central Somali town of Hobyo on August 20, 2010.


Roberto Schmidt

A Somali pirate was sentenced to 12 life terms in prison Monday for his role as negotiator in the hijackings of a German merchant vessel and a US yacht.

The four Americans aboard the yacht were shot to death by pirates. The crew on the other vessel was tortured to get a higher ransom, The Associated Press reported.

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Mohammad Saaili Shibin was convicted earlier this year of 15 charges including piracy, kidnapping and hostage-taking.

His attorney told the AP he plans to appeal the case.

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"To me, nothing could be more heinous than to take unsuspecting people... and just shoot them," The Virginian-Pilot reported US District Judge Robert G. Doumar as saying during the hearing. He called the life terms "a light sentence."

Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against the three men charged with shooting the Americans.

"Today’s sentencing should send a clear message to pirates around the world that you can run, but you can’t hide," US Attorney Neil MacBridge said after the hearing. "There is no parole. Mr. Shibin will die in a federal prison."