Accused Somali pirate indicted in New York court

NEW YORK, May 19 (Reuters) - A Somali teenager accused of holding hostage a U.S. ship captain in the Indian Ocean after an attempted hijacking was indicted on Tuesday on ten counts, including piracy and kidnapping, prosecutors said.

Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, the sole surviving accused pirate from the foiled bid to hijack huge U.S. container ship the Maersk Alabama last month, will be arraigned at U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Thursday.

According to the indictment, Muse "threatened the captain of the ship with a firearm" and then, using a radio to communicate with U.S. representatives, "threatened to kill the captain unless his demands were satisfied."

Muse, who prosecutors said "conducted himself as the leader of the pirates," is also charged with seizing a ship by force, possession of a machine gun and hostage taking.

He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

Lawyers for Muse were not immediately available for comment, but have said they are investigating the possibility that Muse himself had been "kidnapped and taken hostage."

Heavily armed pirates from lawless Somalia have been striking vessels in busy Indian Ocean shipping lanes and in the Gulf of Aden, capturing dozens of vessels, taking hundreds of hostages and making off with millions of dollars in ransoms. (Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Michelle Nichols and Todd Eastham)