The sole surviving member of the Somali pirate crew who hijacked the U.S.-flag Maersk Alabama in 2009 was sentenced Wednesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan to 33 years and 9 months in prison.
A team of U.S. Navy Seals captured Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse and killed his three companions when they rescued the ship's captain, Richard Phillips, in April 2009.
Muse pleaded guilty to charges of hijacking, hostage-taking, kidnapping, and conspiracy. A federal judge ruled in April 2010 that Muse could be tried as an adult. His father in Somalia told defense attorneys he was born Nov. 20, 1993, meaning he would have been 15 at the time of the hijackings. However, the prosecution argued otherwise, saying Muse made statements suggesting he was older.
Judge Loretta A. Preska said she sentenced Muse at the top of the range requested by prosecutors in order to deter piracy, which has reached extraordinarily high levels in recent years.
"Indeed, it is this marked uptick in piracy and armed robbery at sea and the need to deter other individuals from undertaking this kind of conduct," she said, which "makes the higher sentence absolutely necessary."
-- Contact Thomas L. Gallagher at firstname.lastname@example.org.