Will the pirates who murdered the four American sailors face the death penalty?

Of course, my question assumes they’ve been properly tried and convicted. Would a guilty verdict make them eligible for the death penalty?

I guess this actually opens up a broader set of questions: Who tries them and where? Under which nation’s laws (or is there some international law that applies and to which “all” countries* subscribe)?


*yes, I know nothing is ever so neat, but let’s assume that the vast majority of countries adhere to it.

Say what? You aska vague, generic question, and then point out that you yourself know it cannot possible be answered? Hello? McFly?

I heard they were already penalized to death.

The act occured on a US registered vessel in international waters and the pirates are currently in US custody. I would say that there is a good case to say they will be tried by the US.

No, I wonder how it is decided. Does the US get to decide by virtue of capturing them or is there some other process established when piracy was more prevalent. If the US has jurisdiction, does the death penalty apply?

You seem like a smart fellow - can you contribute anything worthwhile or are you just going to criticize and carp?

You are assuming they will be captured, let alone captured alive. Taking that bold assumption, the US military would capture them and transport them to Gitmo. Further assuming a trial ensues, they would be prosecuted under 18 USC 1651. The penalty is life in prison.

Thanks. That is the type of thing I was getting at.

BTW, all but two of the pirates were captured alive (13 out of 15).

The pirates in question have already been captured. They will likely be tried in federal district court in either Virginia or New York (which have each conducted previous trials of Somali pirates), or possibly California or Washington (the victims’ home states).

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smiling bandit, a reply like this is useless and constitutes threadshitting. If you think there is a problem with a question, please report it. If you can’t answer a question, please refrain from comments like this. No warning issued.

General Questions Moderator

They could be indicted under the federal piracy law cited above, but I believe that they could also possibly be indicted for the murder of a federal employee. The penalty is life in prison or death.

18 USC § 1114

Don’t know about this particular case, but according to international law, any country can arrest and subsequently try pirates caught in high seas. So it would depend on which country would catch them.
Something else : for some reason that I can’t really fathom western countries are very reluctant to detain and try Somalian pirates. So, they are trying to get an agreement with a developping country (I think I remember that one of the “candidates” is either Kenya or Tanzania, another an island country in the Indian ocean. Sorry to be unable to be more precise). If I’m not mistaken, the latter would agree to detain them after their trial, but not to try them itself.
Again, I don’t understand what problem western countries have with detaining pirates (except if the victims were their citizens. France has shipped in some who had abducted French citizens, for instance). Does domeone know?

You’re thinking of the arrangements with Kenya and the Seychelles.

As far as I understand it, once they have served their sentences in prison (not an inconsiderable cost in itself) we can’t just ship them back to Somalia, due to the somewhat volatile state of that nation. It would be against their human rights (since they might be at risk of getting killed). So then we have to grant them effective refugee status :smack:(with all those attendant costs) - and surprisingly noone really wants them (being pirates, and all).

I am happy to be corrected on that, though

It’s very highly unlikely that a pirate captured, tried, convicted and sentenced in a US federal court would survive their sentence to be released.

Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, recently sentenced to about 34 years in US prison for piracy and estimated to be about 20 years old at present, looks like a pretty good bet to make it.

I suspect that duckster’s point was that Somali pirates would be unlikely to survive for long in the U.S. prison system. I, too, wouldn’t be surprised to see American prisoners decide to enforce some vigilante justice on a foreigner who murdered Americans.

The Straight Dope on the pirates in question:

Cite: CNN

One of them was killed with a knife by “US Special Operations Forces,” according to the Washington Post Express. That’s hardcore.

I don’t think officials in the US criminal justice system are allowed to take that possibility into account when figuring out an official plan for coping with foreign-national ex-felons, though.

Here’s one for you. I can’t find a cite for this, and I’ve searched, but Rep. Brian Bilbray, was on the local news this morning talking about these pirates. He’s involved because he’s a politician and some relatives of the slain couple are in his district.

He’re something he related that’s rather disturbing. Apparently there’s a growing Somali population in San Diego county. He claims that some of them have been pirates, taken their booty, hopped a freighter and came to the west where they have sought sanctuary. Previously, they were required to remain in Mexico while their cases were processed, but Obama has allowed them to come into this country with pending cases.

Only in America.

As I understand the event, 4 US citizen yachtsmen (all retired, and none from the federal government) were sailing near Somalia and were boarded & hijacked by pirates. Subsequently they were killed by the pirates. A US force which was shadowing the hijacked yacht then boarded it, killed several pirates, and took the rest prisoner.

The law you cite says it applies to federal employees including military killed while at work. AFAIK, there were no such people in this incident.