Somali pirates who make boating a treacherous proposition off the coast of Africa are having a lousy month, courtesy of the U.S. court system and, well, their own bad karma.
On July 8, a jury in federal court in Norfolk, Virginia, convicted Ahmed Muse Salad, Abukar Osman Beyle and Shani Nurani Sheikh Abrar of 26 counts including murder. Twenty-two of those 26 counts make the men eligible for the death penalty, which may be handed down at a sentencing hearing this month.
Salad, Beyle and Abrar were convicted in the hijacking of the yacht Quest in February 2011. The American owners and their friends were shot to death after being taken hostage at sea, with the pirates intending to ransom their lives for millions of dollars. They were the first U.S. citizens killed in what has become a series of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
Eleven other defendants in the Quest case previously pleaded guilty to piracy and were sentenced to life in prison. Four suspected pirates were killed aboard the yacht.
Meanwhile, death was also the result for at least seven of the Somali pirates who have been holding the Malaysian-flagged motor vessel Albedo and its crew members hostage since November 2010. Rough seas rolled into the Somali Coast in early July, sinking the vessel with the pirates onboard.
Sadly, it is believed that at least four of the original 23 Albedo crew members also died in the sinking. The EU Naval Force dispatched search-and-rescue teams, but thus far their efforts to locate any survivors have been unsuccessful.