April 27, 2012 ·4 Comments
By Associated Press, Published: April 27
NORFOLK, Va. — A federal jury began deliberations on Friday in the trial a Somali man accused of being a pirate negotiator involved in an attack on a U.S. yacht in which all four Americans on board were eventually shot and killed.
Mohammad Saaili Shibin faces piracy, kidnapping and hostage-taking charges in connection with the 2011 hijacking of the Quest off the coast of Africa.
The yacht owners, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., along with friends Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle, were the first U.S. citizens killed in a wave of pirate attacks that have plagued the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean despite regular international patrols by warships.
Negotiations with the U.S. Navy were under way when shots were fired aboard the yacht. The Navy had agreed to let the pirates take the yacht in exchange for the hostages, but court documents say the men didn’t think they would get the amount of money they had sought from the exchange.
Hostages are typically ransomed for millions of dollars.
Prosecutors said it was Shibin who was responsible for researching the American hostages online to decide how large of a ransom to seek for them, although he never boarded the yacht. The pirates onboard the Quest told the Navy that they couldn’t negotiate the release of the Americans and gave U.S. authorities Shibin’s phone number to contact as the person in charge.
Shibin attorney James Broccoletti argued that Shibin couldn’t be convicted of piracy because he never boarded the yacht and didn’t commit robbery at sea. He also said he never agreed to be the hostage negotiator, even though he was offered the job by pirate investors.
Prosecutors noted that Shibin made 82 calls to the investors who funded the piracy expedition from the time the Quest was captured.
Shibin is also charged with piracy in the 2010 hijacking of a German merchant vessel in which crew members were tortured while a ransom was negotiated. Prosecutors say Shibin earned between $30,000 and $50,000 for his role in securing a $5 million dollar ransom for the ship’s release.
By goth Mohamed