Aug 13 A Somali man who acted as a ransom
negotiator for pirates who seized an American yacht last year
and killed four American hostages was sentenced on Monday by a
U.S. federal judge to serve 12 life sentences.
Mohammad Shibin was convicted in April on 15 charges
including piracy, hostage taking, kidnapping and conspiracy. He
was paid $30,000 to $50,000 in cash for his negotiating
services, according to a federal indictment.
In a courtroom in Norfolk, Virginia, U.S. District Judge
Robert Doumar sentenced Shibin to serve 10 concurrent life
sentences, two consecutive life sentences and two 20-year
sentences and ordered him to pay $5.4 million in restitution.
"Mohammad Shibin was a key participant in two of the most
heinous acts of piracy in modern memory," U.S. Attorney Neil
MacBride said in a statement.
Pirates commandeered an American yacht carrying Jean and
Scott Adam of California and Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle from
Seattle in February 2011 off the coast of Somalia. All four
hostages were killed despite attempts by the U.S. military to
negotiate their release.
Prosecutors said Shibin was among an elite group whose
skills were needed to negotiate ransoms.
According to evidence presented at trial, Shibin researched
the background of the hostages over the Internet to determine
how much ransom to demand and to find family members to contact
for the payments, prosecutors said.
Shibin also served as a ransom negotiator for pirates who
seized the M/V Marida Marguerite in 2010. The German-owned
vessel had a crew of 22 men who were held hostage for seven
months starting in May 2010 and reported being tortured.
In 2011 Somali piracy cost the world economy $7 billion and
earned the pirates some $160 million in ransoms, according to a
recent report by the International Maritime Bureau.
"(Shibin's) multiple life sentences should put all pirates
on notice that the Justice Department will hold you accountable
in a U.S. courtroom for crimes on the high seas," MacBride said.
(Reporting by Lily Kuo; editing by Christopher Wilson)