Somali Pirate Gets 33 Years in Prison

Federal judge says Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse deserves his harsh sentence
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 16, 2011 2:21 PM CST
Somali Pirate Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse Gets 33-Year Sentence in Hijacking
A 2009 file photo of Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse.   (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano, File)

A Somali pirate who kidnapped and brutalized the captain of a US-flagged merchant ship off the coast of Africa in 2009 was sentenced to more than 33 years in prison today by an emotional judge who told him he deserved a stiff punishment for leading a crew of bandits who "appeared to relish their most depraved acts." A tense standoff ended when Navy sharpshooters killed three of Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse's men and freed captain Richard Phillips. The judge quoted a letter Phillips wrote in which he said modern piracy "is not a Disneyland-esque problem. These are not Johnny Depps. They threaten seamen's lives, repeatedly."

Muse pleaded guilty last year to hijacking, kidnapping, and hostage-taking charges. Before he was sentenced, he apologized to the victims, claiming he was a desperate, small-time player in a Somali piracy syndicate. "I'm very sorry for what I did," he said through an interpreter. "I got my hands into something that was more powerful than me." Muse's mom thinks he was brainwashed by other pirates. Click for that story. (More Somali pirates stories.)

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