Somali Man Pleads Guilty in U.S. Piracy Prosecution

CNN is reporting that Jama Idle Ibrahim has pleaded guilty in federal court in Norfolk, Virginia to acts related to piracy on the high-seas. During the proceedings, Ibrahim admitted he had intended to seize a U.S. merchant vessel on April 10 and hold it for ransom. According to the United States Attorney in the district, this is the first conviction for piracy in Norfolk for 150 years. Sentencing is scheduled for November 29, 2010, and the prosecution and defense have agreed to a recommended sentence of 30 years in prison.

The attack occurred in the Gulf of Aden between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Ibrahim is one of 11 Somalis sent to Norfolk for prosecution in two attacks. Five others are charged in connection with an April 1 attack on the Norfolk-based frigate Nicholas.

Ibrahim pleaded guilty to charges of attacking to plunder a vessel, engaging in a violent act aboard a vessel and using a firearm during a crime of violence. The charge of committing piracy on the high seas, which carried a mandatory life sentence, was thrown out 10 days ago by the judge.

Until this year, there had not been a piracy-related conviction in the United States since 1861, during the Civil War, officials said.

In May, Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, who was accused of leading the attack on the Maersk Alabama in April 2009, pleaded guilty to felony counts of hijacking maritime vessels, kidnapping and hostage taking.
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