Charges Stack Up

The U.S. Justice Department has charged 13 Somalis and one Yemeni with piracy and kidnapping in connection with the deaths last month of four Americans seized in waters off the coast of Oman.

The 14 men were indicted by a federal grand jury on piracy, kidnapping and weapons charges and appeared before a U.S. magistrate in Norfolk, Virginia.

It emerged that during the search of the vessel, the boarding team of U.S. special forces killed two pirates, one in a knife fight and the other by gunshot, and found two others already dead.

“These fourteen men are alleged to have been willing to do anything, including killing their hostages, in a vain attempt to obtain ransom,” Janice Fedarcyk, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s assistant director-in-charge of the New York field office, said in a statement. “It is a crime against the international community, a form of terrorism on the high seas,” she said.

The defendants face mandatory life sentences if convicted of either the piracy or kidnapping charge, according to the Justice Department. The weapons charge has a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years.

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