Somali pirate gets 25-year US prison sentence


A Somali pirate who pleaded guilty for his role in seizing a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden and holding it for more than two months was sentenced last Thursday by a US judge to 25 years in prison.

The U.S. Justice Department said Jama Idle Ibrahim, 39, had previously received a 30-year prison sentence by a federal judge in Virginia for a separate attack on a U.S. Navy ship. The two sentences are to be served at the same time.

A federal judge in Washington handed down the prison term for Ibrahim after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit piracy and using a firearm during a crime of violence.

The act of piracy against the MV CEC Future began on November 7, 2008, when Ibrahim and other armed Somali pirates seized the vessel, which was owned by a Danish company, Clipper Group, the Justice Department said.

They held the vessel, cargo and 13 crew members for ransom and forced the crew to anchor in waters off the Somalia coast, the department said. The vessel was released on January 16, 2009, after Clipper Group paid US$1.7 million in ransom.
“Modern-day pirates are nothing like the swashbuckling heroes in Hollywood movies,” U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen said in a statement after the sentencing.
“Today’s pirates are ruthless criminals who hold ships and their crews hostage with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades,” he said.

Pirates operating off the coast of Somalia have hijacked vessels in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden for years, making millions of dollars in ransoms by seizing ships including oil tankers.

Ibrahim was one of about 25 Somalis who have been captured by the United States over the past year and brought to this country to face piracy and other criminal charges.